I just celebrated my one year anniversary at my new job. For my anniversary my co-workers got me a balloon, a cannoli cupcake (which was delicious), and a card. The card was filled with kind words and thoughtful messages. It was really encouraging to know that others cared about me and appreciated certain characteristics that the saw in me.
After receiving that card it got me thinking, “Are we as Christians as encouraging to each other as all the unbelievers in my office are to me? The people who wrote me this encouraging card are not Christians. They do not have the love of Christ in their hearts and yet they wrote and said such encouraging words. Sometimes those outside the Christian faith can be more loving and encouraging than those inside of it. And that should not be. The world should not outdo us in love and encouragement. We have experienced the love of Christ and have been given new hearts and affections. We should be noticeably loving and encouraging to those around us.
Commanded to Encourage
The Bible commands that we encourage each other. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “encourage one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) and then again he reminds them to, “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The writer of Hebrews thought that encouragement was so important that he commanded his readers to “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). The book of Acts is filled with examples of the early church encouraging each other in the faith (Acts 13:15, Acts 16:40, Acts 18:27, Acts 20:1-2). Encouraging those around you is commanded, but how can we do this?
How to Encourage
There are at least 3 forms of encouragement: compliment, good news, and motivating. Each of these are important ways we can encourage others.
- Compliment and Appreciate – You can encourage someone by appreciating characteristics, abilities, and accomplishments that you have noticed in their life. You might let them know that you are impressed by their athletic ability, proud of their work ethic, or that you love their sense of humor. There are numerous ways that you can encourage others by complimenting them.
- Share Good News – Good news can lift your spirits and encourage: You go to the doctor and find out that the cancer is gone. Your boss calls you into his office and let’s you know he is going to give you a raise. You get your report card and your grades are good. This kind of news is encouraging. Certainly, we are not always able to share this kind of dramatic news, but as opportunities arise we should seek to share good news with others.
- Motivate and Support – You can encourage someone by pushing them to do their best. When I have a workout partner, I am typically going to have a better workout than when I am alone. I am motivated to try harder and lift more because I have someone spurring me on to do better. I am encouraged to work harder in a way that I wouldn’t be if there was no one there pushing me. We can encourage others in that same way in multiple areas of life.
It is good to encourage one other in these ways, but as Christian it is even more important that we encourage each other in the faith.
Encourage in the Faith
- Compliment and Appreciate – Paul would regularly compliment his readers by appreciating their godly characteristics and ministry accomplishments. He boasts of the Roman believers’ faith that was “proclaimed in all the world” (Romans 1:8). He spoke of the Ephesian Christians’ “love toward all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15). He compliments the Philippian church because of their “partnership in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5). When a church was doing something well, he let them know about. He wanted them to be encouraged in their Christian growth and ministerial pursuits. We too should compliment other Christians when we notice their godly character and ministry efforts. We want them to be encouraged by the work God is doing in and through them.
- Share Good News – In his first epistle to the Thessalonians Paul tells his readers that when a believer passes away they should not mourn like the world mourns “since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). The good news of the gospel is that death is not the end for the believer. There is eternal life and unending joy in the presence of God. This is the hope of every believer. After sharing these truths with the Thessalonians, Paul then tells them to “encourage one another with these words” (Thessalonians 4:18). This good news is meant to be shared as a means of encouragement. As believers we can encourage each other by sharing the good news of God’s Word with one another.
- Motivate and Support – The Author of Hebrews commands his audience to consider how they can “stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25). As a form of encouragement the Hebrew Christians were to stir each other on to love and good works. They were to motivate each other in the Christian life. We too are to consider ways that we can help other Christians grow in their walk with Jesus. We might ask that they come with us to a Bible study, or read a theology book along side of us, or join us as we evangelize the lost. There are endless ways that we can encourage other Christians to move forward in the faith, we just need to resolve that we will.
The Bible calls us to encourage one other in the faith. Find someone who you might encourage today.