Thursday, May 19, 2011
AN ENCOURAGING WORD
According to the Bible, we are to encourage one another as we fellowship together. Jesus said that people would know we are His disciples if we show love for one another. What can be more loving than to speak words of encouragement to fellows believers? In addition, when we offer encouraging words to those outside of Christ, we open doors to communicate the Gospel to them by showing them love.
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus makes this statement after telling of God's goodness and His willingness to give to those who love Him: "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." We all know this as the Golden Rule, and in this passage, Jesus makes it a positive command. How we treat other people is a reflection of our relationship with God. A negative outlook, critical spirit, and discouraging words do not glorify the Lord or edify anyone!
A number of scripture verses directly address the issue of encouraging one another. In his letter to the to the believers at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul spoke of how he purposely sent Timothy to build them up in 1 Thessalonians 3:2: "We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith." Then in chapter 4:18, Paul writes: "Therefore encourage each other with these words" when he had just finished his discussion of the return of Christ. I Thessalonians 5:11 reads: "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing."
Another letter written to the Hebrews also admonishes believers to build each other up in chapter 3:13: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Finally, in Hebrews 10:25 the author writes: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another --and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Of course, there are many other passages we could look at, but the point is clear that we need to build each other up as we walk in this world. So how can we begin to do this consistently?
Practically speaking, it is not that difficult to make encouraging comments to others. The issue is making time to do this. For example, take a moment to tell your pastor how much you appreciated his sermon on Sunday. He labors hard to study the Word of God and desires to build up believers. Therefore, a good word of encouragement will give him even more motivation in his work. Other ways to encourage believers include: writing notes to those who are ill, celebrating a birthday or anniversary. In fact, there is a dear lady in our fellowship who never fails to send us an anniversary card EVERY year. She said she just knows how much it meant to her to receive cards so she feels this can bless others as well.
We can visit a shut-in or go to a nursing home and encourage people there. These places can be so lonely when no one thinks to visit. No matter what your age or health, a word of encouragement is deeply appreciated. Sending or taking flowers to someone who is in the hospital can bring much needed cheer. Helping to cook meals for someone who has just had surgery also can be a blessing to them.
Finally, let me address another issue that is near and dear to my heart. Encourage people who teach Sunday School, work in the church office, clean the church, serve as a leader or do any other ministry that in some way touches you personally. We so often forget these folks! Let me add a personal note here. I have been writing devotions for nearly fifteen years now so that I can encourage others. It is my desire to help people grow in their faith. Now that I am blogging, I try to make an effort to read what others write and then make a comment on their blog to encourage them. We need to take time to let others know that their efforts are important to us. Certainly, we cannot cover every one all the time, but we need to take time to begin saying "thank you...you bless me" to those around us.
With the world in the shape it is in and the economy less than exciting, we need lots of positive comments to overcome all the negative things we hear every day. And if you are one of those making all those negative comments that bring others down, please talk to the Lord. Think about the impact you are having on those around you. Are you glorifying God by constantly worrying or whining? Instead, set out to make it your mission to speak a good word to the people around you at work, at home or at school. It doesn't cost anything to do this either...in fact, you may be the one that reaps the reward of bringing a smile to some one's face. May each of us strive as much as it is possible for us to be an encourager in the body of Christ to the glory of God! Selah!
In what ways, have you or do you plan to encourage others? How have others encouraged you? I welcome your thoughts and insights here.