Encouragement is key
Everyone gets discouraged at some point – even the most focussed. So we all need encouragement throughout our life.
The most common word for encouragement in the Bible is the Greek, ‘parakaleo’ — ‘para’ meaning ‘beside, near, with, alongside’, and ‘kaleo’ meaning ‘to call or summon’. A ‘paraclete’ is someone called alongside another to counsel, encourage, help, and bring comfort. This word is used to refer to the role of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless” in John 14:18 (NIV) He was saying, I will not leave you ‘encourage-less’. Paul referred to God as the God of encouragement (2 Corinthians 1:4).
An encourager helps us when we are in trouble, and when we’re in situations with which we cannot cope. A person needing help may not require comfort as much as a challenge. The word means to not only empathise, but to motivate, inspire, give comfort, and courage. It’s about urging hesitant soldiers into battle and fearful sailors into storms.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul tells the Thessalonians, “We exhort you … admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak.” In his letter to the Hebrews, he commands, “Exhort one another daily” Hebrews 3:13 (NIV). That means more than comfort. We are to challenge one another, and “stir up one another to love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24 (NIV).
As believers in Jesus Christ, we encourage because:
1. Encouragement is God’s command
Every Christian should be an active encourager. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 states, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up ... .” Mutual encouragement is a huge part of our corporate responsibilities as Christians. You and I cannot make it on our own.
2. Encouragement neutralises sin’s deceitfulness
Left to ourselves, we will start going into denial and begin compromising what we believe. “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrew 3:13 (NIV). Sin can be deceitful, and we don’t always see it “crouching at our door”. We have blind spots. Sometimes our friends see blind spots and their encouragement helps us to overcome them. We were not designed to make it on our own and we all need encouragement to guard against a growing complacency in our walk with God.
3. Encouragement fosters spiritual growth
Everyday Christians are supposed to help, support, and intercede for each other by comforting and encouraging those who are experiencing affliction. When we do, their faith grows stronger, and they are motivated toward righteousness. When we are isolated in our struggles and pain, it can sometimes push us right to the edge of giving up. When this happens, the only difference between us going on or giving up, succeeding, or failing is a simple word of encouragement.
4. Encouragement helps create a spiritual family
God designed the church to be a Christian ‘family’. We are called ‘brothers and sisters’ in Christ. Family means that we should be there for others. They can continually lean on us for spiritual support, encouragement, and comfort. That love and encouragement fosters the healthy “spiritual family environment” that God wants us to always have.
5. Encouragement keeps us on track
We all can lose perspective from time to time; one day we’re up, the next we’re down. We find that encouragement helps us to stay on track with people who are headed in the same direction. We’re fellow travellers with the same problems and struggles. Today. I pick you up and tomorrow you will have to pick me up.
Think about whom you can encourage today.