He had lived a rugged life and a sometimes violent life. When he became a Christian it was almost unbelievable. Walking through the door into a room of church people was a hard experience. Most of them looked at him halfway expecting him to try to hurt them. But one of the Christian men approached him and said, “Welcome Brother Saul.” That man was Barnabas, who had the nickname “son of encouragement”.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
The simple command to “encourage one another” seems like something you wouldn’t have to say. I think if you asked most any Christian if we are to be an encouragement to others, the answer would be a solid YES! Yet dozens of times the Bible gives the instruction to encourage.
Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
2 Corinthians 13:11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.
Acts 27:36 Then everyone was encouraged and began to eat…
The Bible gives every Christian the ministry of encouragement because it is needed. There are so many discouraging realities in life that can steal our energy and joy. Many people live with the heavy weight of discouragement – and we all have experienced it.
Why Is Discouragement So Powerful?
It is powerful because it relates to our emotions. It is a feeling of being down, or unsuccessful, or a failure, worry, struggle. These feelings can impact our day, our relationships, our jobs.
It is powerful because it relates to how we relate to others. Often we become discouraged when we compare ourselves to others: looks, weight, wealth, education, ability – we should celebrate our differences, not feel inferior to others.
It is powerful because it focuses our attention on areas of unhappiness. We can become chronic complainers – never seeing the good around us because we are groaning about something we think isn’t the way it should be.
It is powerful because it is often anchored to our past mistakes. When we dwell on our mistakes and replay them in our mind, we can become discouraged.
“Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellow man, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” – William Ward.
No wonder the Bible tells us to “encourage each other and build each other up.” We all need an encourager!
God is Our Greatest Encourager
2 Corinthians 7:6 God, who encourages those who are discouraged
He encourages us in the way he knows and loves us. (Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?)
He encourages us with his endless mercy. (Lamentations 3:22-23 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.)
He encourages us with the promise of heaven (Romans 8:18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.)
He encourages us by his grace. (1 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.)
There are many many promises of God to be found in Scripture. These promises give us hope and help for each day. They also give us an example of how we are to relate to one another.
Activate The Ministry of Encouragement in your Life!
There is a surplus of discouragement, disappointment, despondency in our world today. Christians are to be lights to the world … be a light in your world. How To Be an Influential Force of Encouragement:
Practice the art of listening. (James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.) How powerful is the simple act of listening? This one act alone is a powerful testimony that you care. In our day of ultra-activity, we don’t have time for each other anymore. Brent Riggs : “People need other people. The world is full of lonely people. Your church is full of lonely, hurting people. I guarantee it.” “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are then wait to hear the answer.”
Be Empathetic / Understanding. (Romans 12:15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.) Empathy is more powerful than sympathy. Put your self in the other person’s shoes and try to feel what they are feeling. Empathy is the effort to be sensitive towards another’s hurts, to take part in the motions of the situation so that you can relate to the person more closely. When we relate to others in this way we are hurting with them, taking part in their sorrow, helping to bear the burden of the pain for them. Our experiences can help us be empathetic. Have you dealt with cancer or sickness? Have you been through divorce or adultery? Dealt with a rebellious child? Death in the family? Loss of a job? Drug or alcohol addiction? Pornography? What situation has God seen you through? What comfort did you receive from the Lord, or from others? Take your experience and use it to provide understanding and encouragement to others.
Pray for those who are hurting. Ask SPECIFICALLY how you can pray for them. “And you are helping us by praying for us. ” (2 Corinthians 1:11). God hears the prayers of His people, and wants us to pray for each other. Jot prayer needs in a small notebook, and follow up with a note or phone call.
Speak and Smile. Somebody said we should join the Smile and Compliment Club. Wherever you go, and to whomever you talk, give them a smile and a compliment. You can think of something nice to say. “My, you breathe evenly.” Smile. “People all over the world smile in the same language” Harvey Mackay. Ephesians 4:29 “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Write Your Encouragements! A note saying “I care” or “I’m praying” will mean much to someone who is lonely, grieving, discouraged about wayward family members, unemployment, or health issues.
Be Present. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” Even when we don’t know what to say, just being there encourages.
Look for ways to Help. Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Helpers use ordinary skills to encourage others. c. They may sew or mend, do odd jobs, repairs, or shopping, rock a baby for a new mom, drive them to the doctor, or show up with an old pickup when somebody needs to move.
Be willing to Give. Proverbs 21:26 “Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!” Givers recognize situations where money, food, clothing, or the loan of equipment will help lift people out of their discouragement.
Be Hospitable. Hebrews 13:2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hospitality literally means “brotherly love of strangers.” So defined, it changes from “entertaining” to simply loving people by providing a meal or bed in the name of Christ.
We live in a sin-cursed world full of hurts, sorrow, disappointment, pain and trouble. God comforts us. We comfort and encourage each other. Let me tell you that I’ve been there. I’m in the valley many times. And God has never failed to fill me with hope when I turned to Him to find it. He has often done so through the care of a friend – and sometimes through the encouraging words of a stranger.
Every Christian should see encouraging others as an essential part of their discipleship. Hebrews 3:13 NIV But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We can be too busy to be encouragers. Our lives are (too) busy, in the hustle and bustle, stacked with hobbies and kids sports—this is tough. But we have technology. We can text. We can email. We can call. We can post encouraging things on social media. We can get creative with the common grace of technology to make an effort toward encouraging others.
“DAILY – AS LONG AS IT IS CALLED TODAY” Who will you encourage today? “Daily” shows us how much we need the encouragement of others.
Lord God, thank You that You are always ready to offer us perfect encouragement. Help us to find someone today and encourage them during a tough time in their life. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Can you share about a time when someone encouraged you when you really needed it?
Psalm 16 – Why is Our Heart Glad? Read through the Psalm and list reasons why we find encouragement in God.
What is the co-relation between giving and receiving encouragement?
What is the difference between encouragement and telling someone what to do? What place does advice giving have in encouragement?
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. As a group, share one thing you believe you can do tomorrow to encourage someone.
Have you ever thought of the book of Philippians as a letter of encouragement from Paul to that church? What are four encouragements he offers to them in chapter 1 vs 3-8?
How would it make you feel to receive a letter from an apostle with encouragements like this?
Were there any thoughts about encouraging others that we haven’t talked about and that you wanted to share?
Peter Michaelson https://whywesuffer.com/why-am-i-so-easily-discouraged/
The Power of Encouragement by Jeanne Zornes https://thelife.com/the-power-of-encouragement
J.A. Medders https://jamedders.com/the-every-member-ministry-of-encouragement/