Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Many years ago, I participated in a group devotional in which the facilitator did something brilliant. He instructed each person in the group to encourage each other with kind words. I remember how the entire atmosphere of the room changed as people began testifying of the power of God in each other’s lives with words filled with life and grace. That night I personally witnessed God’s redemptive purpose behind words. Words are meant to bring hope, healing, truth, and reconciliation. In fact, the Gospel of Christ is mainly communicated to others through words. They have the power to strengthen our confidence in the nature and character of God. Each day as we are met with various trials, I see the value of encouragement. The entire Bible encourages us with the timeless truths of Christ’s destruction over our sin and our reconciliation to a Holy God. Encouragement is the vessel that provides the fuel to fire our faith, to embolden us to persevere through difficult circumstances, to reassure us when we are downcast and heavy laden, to strengthen us when we are weak, and most importantly to affirm that God is indeed at work in us. Hope binds church members together in humility, love, and unity to continue to pursue Christ and to make Him known. Here are three reasons why I think encouragement is an important practice in the culture of the Local Church.
Encouragement is the shot of adrenaline needed to help the struggling Christian to persevere.
The unsaved world is growing increasingly dark and we are attacked on every side. As the days grow darker and God’s word is repeatedly pushed to the margins, it is easy for believers to become discouraged. Our circumstances dictate to us to continually pursue selfishness, trials push us to the brink of despair, and disappointment tempts us to question the goodness of our faithful God. The sad excuse that the world offers as self-help does nothing to reassure a weak believer to persevere. Biblical encouragement is what we need. We need the words of Paul who says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. The sweet exhortation of a kind friend can be the healing balm needed to mend a shattered heart and to firm up a weakened resolve to endure. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” When we consider how to encourage each other, we are spurring each other on to hold fast to our confession of Christ.
Believers need the affirmation that God is indeed completing the work begun.
The criticisms and unkind words of others can take their toll on us. Unfortunately, we are prone to look to our self-achievements more often than we care to admit. However, encouragement jolts us from our introspection and resettles our gaze on the God who breathes life into dead hearts. When we are so weighed down by difficult circumstances and sharp criticisms from others, it is a breath of fresh air to hear the reaffirming words that God indeed will hold us fast. We need to hear, “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8: 33-34. The authority that comes from this verse motivates and empowers us to serve fearlessly. The God who equips us also justifies us and intercedes for us. These truths are so encouraging! How can we not want shout for joy and to rally the world to join us in the praise and adoration of our great God?
Encouragement is a practical way to obey the call to “count others as more significant than ourselves” in Philippians Ch. 2
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 1-4) Paul commands us to model the same humility that was exemplified by Christ in both His earthly ministry and His death. Encouraging each other is a practical way to obey this command because it builds others up first instead of promoting our own self-interests. We live in a world where putting others down for the sake of getting ahead is not only tolerated, but also encouraged. Christ calls us to a greater reality by promoting humility and servanthood, rather than dominance and conceit. We truly decrease as Christ is magnified in others. Encouraging each other is another practical way that we can reflect Christ to a lost world.
Christ is the glue that binds us together in unity and love, and His words of encouragement are the choice weapon against the enemy’s flaming darts of accusation. The Bible does not mince words when it says that things are going to get harder. We see evidence of Satan’s fingerprints all over this world. However, let us consider the certain victory that is ours through Christ as we become women who use our words to strengthen the feebleminded, to heal the brokenhearted, and to speak words of life, wisdom, and grace to those who are far off from God.
Until He comes again,
Joy Dudley is a member of Lakeshore City Church and loves Jesus Christ with a passion to point other to the heart of the gospel