Why Encourage? [Part 1]
Why should we go out of our way to encourage others? This is the first of 4 sermons and I am excited to bring you along this journey with me.
Life is tough, and whether it is to take on a challenge or to deal with a setback or just to get up to face the day, we all can use some encouragement. But real encouragement often means more than a pat on the back and the words “hang in there, it will get better.” With our weak economy, job losses, financial problems, health problems, and the challenges of raising kids, people of all ages are facing long and difficult challenges that just don’t go away because we want them to. People today need practical help and real encouragement that can help them to face problems that just won’t go away. The scriptures give us many practical ways to encourage one another that are based on truth and really work.
Lets take a look at a few verses:
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
(1 Thes 5:11)
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season;correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Tim 4:2)
When he [Barnabas] arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers.
After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
…Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece…
…everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort…
For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.
(1 Cor 14:3, 31)
Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Now what a way to start a sermon, with a collection of 9 verses. Best of all this is nowhere near the amount of verses that the New Testament has to offer on this subject. So why should we encourage one another?
- We should encourage because God asks us to.
This is the 1st and most basic part, why should we encourage people, well…. because Jesus asks us to. It’s that simple, there is no place in the Bible when Jesus tells someone to not encourage people, why? Because the impact of just a simple word of encouragement can make an eternal mark.
What does the word encouragement mean in the greek language? To call Alongside, to come alongside another.
2. We should encourage to fill others spiritual cup.
We all want our “Spiritual cup filled”, there a few ways to help fill this cup and one of them is encouraging others, you are filling up someone’s cup and helping them by pointing them to true hope. Have you ever been encouraged and noticed how much your cup was filled in that moment? It FEELS GREAT, so lets spread the love and give that feeling to someone who desperately needs it. Giving someone spiritual strength also fills your cup in turn. It’s a great cycle that once it starts you don’t want to end.
God has blessed us with a cup, but what is the point of a cup? Why do you go to the store and purchase cups? is it just to sit there and look pretty, NO of course not you buy cups to have them filled! Our spiritual cup is no different, God has given us this cup so that it can be filled. SO LETS FILL OURS AND OTHERS.
I am going to try to explain this as not confusing as possible! Lets pretend we have a latter and on every step we have someone elses spiritual cup. The person on the top does not know the effect that one piece of encouragement could do for the person on the bottom of the ladder, you see if you encourage the person under you, then that may encourage them to go and do the same thing. If this begins to take place in the Church do you realize the effect that it can have! The person to provide the first piece of encouragement may not even know the effect that its having, and that’s just another awesome part of God.
3. We should encourage because it fills our spiritual cup
At first glance this may seem somewhat selfish, we should not be encouraging others just so our cup will be filled. However when we encourage our cup is filled as a by-product. We all desire for our cup to be filled, but when we desire to fill others cup more than ours, something changes with us internally. Our attitude goes from, HURRY HURRY, fill my cup up before I get depressed. To, Let me take what little I have to give it to you because you are in need of it. We can even look at the Jesus’ life and how he acted. He gave what he had and requested nothing in return. Giving us something that we cannot repay him for[Grace]. We are incapable of repaying the price that Jesus payed for us. encouragement.
4. We should encourage because if we don’t its discouragement
One church bulletin read: “Don’t let worry kill you off—let the Church help.”
It could have as easily read: “Don’t let discouragement kill you off—let the Church help.”
Of course, the double meaning is obvious: When a church actively encourages, in performing this vital responsibility it builds us up in the faith.
On the other hand, when a church fails to encourage enough, the opposite effect can certainly—perhaps even ALWAYS—happen: People can become discouraged, spiritually discharged, and may eventually look to “other options” so far as their church attendance is concerned. Unfortunately, many people who leave a discouraging church never did their own part to encourage others. It’s hard to criticize if we’re part of the problem, isn’t it?
So, we must ALL determine to be part of the solution.
And then you will see a church, committed to truth in both teaching and practice, flourish in the way Christ intended.
- A life without encouragement is discouragement
How tragic it is when the very institution designed to give people strength, instead discourages their spirits!
You see this very thing happened to me, I would attend church, the place that one would assume would be home to the most encouraging people alive. HOWEVER IT WASN’T, every time I would walk in I would be discouraged, worst of all the people doing the discouragement didn’t even realize it. I can assure you right now that, that is not how it is supposed to be. How do you fix this though? You have to be an example, through your actions and words, you be the Christ like picture of encouragement and things will begin to change, That’s what I have to do, I am always having an encouraging mind and its beginning to rub off, it’s not 100% done, but the first step has been taken. You have to purposely have an encouraging mind. People will notice.
- Your strong faith can itself help encourage others. Christians of Philippi were encouraged by Paul’s imprisonment to be more courageous themselves. (Phil 1:14)
5. It allows us to gracefully correct those doing wrong
If all you say to a person is negative, when there’s a lot of positive that could also be truthfully said (which there usually is)—your negative comments will probably be viewed as unrealistic, and your respect from that person will likely deservedly diminish.
I have seen this on more than one occasion and to be truthful you can see the hurt in action, the look on the persons face as you are bashing them(Even if it’s in good fun) is hurtful. If all we do is “play around” with people, and diminish how they look or act, then it destroys their self-esteem, even if that is not your intent. This is especially hard for guys, we don’t like to compliment other dudes, however we need to start telling people how much we appreciate them no matter the gender. You see telling someone who you appreciate all that they have done in your life is so encouraging! When we don’t take the time to tell people who though, our attitudes can quickly become negative and discouraging. Let me give you an example:
I am a part-time barista and I truly love my job with a passion. There was this extremely busy day and I had been at work going on 6 hours and I had another 3 to go. It was going to be a long shift! Right before the rush started I was put on bar (Which means I am the one who crafts the beverages), an I instantly became stressed, the line was already out the door and the drinks where starting to pile up. I began working like crazy, moving back and forth working on 3 drinks at a time, it was insane. I was impressing myself I didn’t;t think I was able to handle such a rush and work on so many drinks at one time. About 1 hour in, I was getting tired, and started slowing down. Then out of no where, I felt a hand on my back and say “Fantastic job Victor!” BOOM! I felt a surge of energy and was able to finish the drinks and the rush ended. Just the simple gesture of telling me good job, was monumental in my performance. It was the first kind of encouragement that I had received all day, and when you’re the one being encouraged you realize how great it feels! You should want to spread that feeling.
You would assume that the church or your church friends should be some of the main people encouraging you, however for me that was not the case. Now they were making valiant efforts to encourage but for some reason it wasn’t working. Then all of a sudden my secular friends began to encourage me at school and when we hung out, which was not a bad thing, but when I started getting more encouragement from secular friends, I began to notice that something was off. It should be complete opposite, but it wasn’t! I had to be an example of how encouragement should be in the church and with other Christians, and that is how God called me to this topic. We were so comfortable with each other in the Church that we slowly began to lose our encouraging spirits!
If, on the other hand, you’re continually pointing to the positives about that person (flattery, or exaggerated statements, are not helpful or truthful), then when it comes time to say something uncomfortable that needs to be said, he or she will be far more likely to listen and change behavior—if necessary. And you will likely be held in higher esteem.
I also have seen this in action, this is a much more beautiful picture, and its a picture that you want to be in. People notice when you are encouraging to them so when you do need to correct them they take it with a higher respect, than if they did if you are always diminishing them.
Obviously, congregations are required to administer church discipline in a number of scenarios (immorality not repented of, false teaching, laziness, etc). The goal of discipline is always to bring back the wrongdoer to the faith, so his or her soul will be saved. In other words, it’s to be administered based on love. Paul said that we must “do everything in love” (1 Cor 16:14).
A few final tips:
- Make sure your encouragement is sincere, or from the heart, rather than forced and artificial.
- Make sure your encouragement is truthful. For example, if you heard a truly good sermon, be sure to mention that to the speaker. If the lesson was “not that great,” don’t leave that impression with the speaker since such efforts will be reinforced. Instead, be honest when encouraging others.
- Don’t forget to encourage your leaders. Encourage them whenever they’re involved in leadership that is helping the church. If they are inactive, encourage them to do more, so the church can grow (2 Cor 7:4,13). One excellent way to encourage leaders is to respond to their loving, scriptural leadership. Leaders are encouraged when spiritual activities they’re trying to organize are well-attended and participated in. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, it often has the opposite effect of discouragement. Never forget that such functions, among others, are for your good as well.
- Don’t confuse a handshake with encouragement. A terse handshake while you make a beeline for the parking lot is not encouragement—at least, not to me. Yes, there’s value in such a greeting, and it’s certainly better than nothing. But would you consider a handshake with your physical brother or sister once a week to be encouraging them? Nor is such the case with your spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Increase your encouragement to others during times of their trouble or hardship. The Bible commands us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
- When your church or friend group at church fails to do its job and actively encourage you, remember that you can also receive encouragement through the word of God—which should be our primary source of encouragement. (see Romans 15:4-5)