We know that encouragement is a Biblical principle. Remarkable isn’t it, to consider that God not only lays down principles by which to live, but also provides all that we need in order to abide by them. Encouragement is listed among the gifts given to believers by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:8). Perhaps knowing we need the Holy Spirit in order to exercise this gift, will prompt us to lean more on God, in order to meet the needs of others.
Encouragement is regarded throughout both Testaments as necessary to spiritual development. “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” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). In the Old Testament we read – “Stop doing wrong; learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17) How often it is easy to overlook those who are quiet and shy. Paul recommends, among other things, that we not forget to strengthen the timid (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Encouragement, like many other Christian virtues needs renewing day by day “Encourage one another daily….so that none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). It is needed by leaders. In training Joshua to take his place, the Lord instructed Moses “Encourage him, because he will lead Israel” (Deuteronomy 1:38). It is needed by brothers in the Lord, and was even needed by Jesus Himself (Matthew 26:38). “He [an elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).
One requires great patience to encourage others. It can be emotionally draining (2 Timothy 4:2). Serving others requires that gift of the Spirit. “Patience” (Galatians 5:22, 2 Timothy 4:2). Also, those who form the support network for aging relatives or grieving friends know how much energy it takes to be a reliable presence in the face of such great need.
Josiah, King of Israel encouraged the priests in their temple duties. How important it is when we see encouragement coming from the top down! Paul found that in exercising praise he encouraged himself. Today he might have written a book on self-help! Barnabas fulfilled the meaning of his name, “Son of Encouragement”, by his ministry to others (Acts 4:36). Endurance and encouragement from the scriptures brought about a spirit of unity in the early Church.
If the truth were known there probably isn’t anyone living who has never needed an encouraging word, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on. We who have been recipients of such a ministry, understand the magnitude of the miniscule….it is little things that mean so much in times of crisis. Jesus said “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me (Matthew 25:40). Therefore all of us can do something to encourage others, if we would only be sensitive to their moments of need.
Remember a time when God used someone to encourage you. How did that feel?
Would you like to have the reputation of making others feel the same?
What is it that prevents you and me from seizing the opportunities that God places before us?
Would you be willing commit to a ministry of encouragement?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)