How to Encourage [Part 2]
Wow, we are already on part 2 of this 4 part sermon! It is so exciting to be seeing the response that the first one got and how God has been working through it. As we move forward we will be focusing on some other topics related to encouragement.
- How? (This one)
This is a list of the next 3 sermons (Including this one) that will be put out and I am so excited to have the privilege of writing them.
So… How should we encourage?
Well this is a trick question in a sorts because there is no one specific way we should encourage, in fact there are many different ways that us Christians can encourage others
1. Learn individuals’ “love languages,” the special ways in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman explains that not everyone’s emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it’s important to learn to speak others’ love languages. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.
Alright, so learning each others love languages is step one in my opinion, because everyone is different in the fact that not every person can be encouraged the same way as the next. For example I could be encouraged through a text, to where my friend could be encouraged by a hand shake.(Not the most effective types of encouragement but ill get into that later) I have seen examples of this in my own life, valiant efforts to encourage are made by peers, but it is not effective… why? the reason is because we do not take the time to learn the ways that each person is encouraged.
You will probably say “But that takes a lot of time and commitment.” You are so absolutely right and as brothers and sisters in Christ we should take the time to learn how we are encouraged because we are supposed to reflect Gods love to the world and one way of doing that is through encouraging others.
We have to take time to learn how to effectively encourage one another, not just make a 50% effort to encourage others. God does not give you 50% of His love he gives you all of it, and we should strive to show that love to everyone we come into contact with.
So what are the love languages?
- Words of affirmation –
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important— hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. You thrive on hearing kind and encouraging words that build you up.
- Acts of Service –
Can helping with homework really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. When others serve you out of love (and not obligation), you feel truly valued and loved.
- Receiving Gifts –
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are heartfelt symbols to you of someone else’s love and affection for you.
- Quality Time – In Quality Time, nothing says “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes you feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed activities, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Whether itʼs spending uninterrupted time talking with someone else or doing activities together, you deepen your connection with others through sharing time.
- Physical Touch (Hugs, high fives, etc…) –
A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, and thoughtful touches on the arm—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Appropriate and timely touches communicate warmth, safety, and love to you.
So these are the five love languages and before we can even think about how to encourage someone we first have to determine which love language appeals to them the most! Once we take this first step is when and only when we can begin to effectively encourage.
2. Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God and characteristics of God. We may know something with our mind, but need to be reminded in our heart. The Apostle Peter wrote, “I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” 2 Peter 1:12
This should be a main source of encouragement to fellow Christians, the reason I say this is that God is truth and you can’t get much truer than true. The Gospel is a pure spring of encouragement. Sometimes it takes the verbal telling to someone of these truths however. take the Israelites for example, God had to constantly remind Him that He was God. Sometimes we need to take that step and just tell someone who God loves them and that they are beautifully and wonderfully made. Just that simple reminder and awesome truth can be monumental in someone’s day and even life.
3. Realize the power of presence. Just being there can be encouraging! When you’re with others, you’re telling them that they’re important. The Apostle Paul closed his letter to the church at Colossae promising to send his friend Tychius “that he may encourage your hearts.” Colossians 4:8
Job 2:11 – Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.
Do you see how Job’s friends reacted to his situation? If you are unfamiliar with Jobs story I will give you a short run down. The devil approaches God and asks him if he can test Job. The devil says the only reason he[Job] is faithful is because God has blessed him with money and wealth. God allows Him to test Job however the devil cannot kill Job. He can do what ever he wants except kill Job.
Job 2:12-13 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.
So why did they go to meet Job in his suffering? They went to comfort him [v.11] and they said absolutely nothing [v.13], because they knew that they didnt need to say anything because Job was in so much pain and suffering. The devil literally took everything away, his wealth, family, servants, cattle, loved ones, and he was beginning to get diseases and boles. He was in extreme physical pain and emotional pain. So his friends went to comfort him. Now in these times there were no next door neighbors, they had to travel long distances to meet Job. It says they saw Him in the distance, which indicates that they traveled a long way. Just there meer presence in the time of hurt and pain, was encouraging to Job. They comforted him, and later on after the 7 days and nights of silence [v.13], they began to give speeches one by one, encouraging Job. Just the presence of Best friends can be monumental in relationships when encouraging. However you have to be their for the person hurting. The 3 friends could have just prayed for Job, but they did more. They took the next step and meet him where he was. They came along side him, and that’s exactly what the word encouragement means.
Here is an example for you, take a small row-boat, you have two ores one on either side of you. The ore on the left represents praying for a friend in need and the one on the right represents physically taking steps to help your friend[being there for them, buying them food, comforting words, appealing to their LOVE LANGUAGES]. If we row the one on the left then we just go in circles, same thing for the one on the right, if we only row that one we only go in circles, it takes a good balance between the two to be able to go in a straight line.
This is why we need a good balance between the two, in our daily lives!
4. The power of a few simple words, this is monumental in how someone’s day is going. A few words like ” I thank God for you!” or “you are such a blessing to me” makes the other person feel wanted and appreciated. Your words could change the course of that person day.
Proverbs chapter 12:25 tells us that “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” Do you know that our words can actually be a tonic, a medication, a healing power in someone else’s life? Because you see, depression is ultimately a matter of the heart. It’s heaviness in the heart. It’s the heart being bowed down, and it’s the result of some sort of anxiety that’s internal.
It’s not just a physical matter, though it may have physical symptoms that relate to it. But ultimately, it’s a matter of the spirit and God says that our words can minister grace and gladness and help to discouraged or depressed hearts.
A good word can make a heavy heart or a depressed heart glad. Proverbs chapter 16:24 tells us “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” You say, “The bones, that’s a physical part of your body.” You’re saying words can even help you physically.
You can’t really separate your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. I mean, we are body, soul, and spirit. Your body doesn’t exist without your soul and your spirit. So what effects one of those affects all parts. The Scripture says that our words can so minister pleasantness and grace and strength and courage and sweetness to the soul that even the health of our bodies is affected.
You know what it’s like to have a heavy heart and to have your body feel the toll of what’s going on in your spirit. Our words, if they’re pleasant words, if they’re encouraging words can be sweetness and health and strength.
I think of that verse in the Song of Solomon that’s been a challenge to me many, many times where it says the bridegroom in that passage says to his bride, “Honey and milk are under your tongue” (Song 4:11). He’s talking about the power of her words to encourage and to strengthen.
Honey will strengthen a person in weakness. If they take a little honey, it gives them some strength. Milk helps to mature bones that are immature or weak. And he’s saying, “Your words have that power in my life to encourage, to strengthen, to build up my life in its weakness.”
I want to give you two Old Testament illustrations of the power of words to strengthen and encourage. First of all in 2 Chronicles chapter 32, the context here is that Sennacherib who is the king of Assyria has invaded the nation of Judah. He has terrified the people with his threats.
So Hezekiah, who is the king of Judah, strengthens himself in the Lord. He fortifies the capital city. He builds up their defensive weaponry supply. And then verse 6 tells us in 2 Chronicles 32 that,
Hezekiah set military captains over the people, he gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and he gave them encouragement saying, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him.” (vv. 6–7)
Now, if you just looked at the numbers of the armies, that wasn’t true at all. The Assyrian army had, I think it was 185,000 troops, or something like that. The Israelites were far outnumbered, humanly speaking. But he’s saying, “We have God with us. So we have far more with us than they have with them.”
Verse 8 he says,
With him [the King of Assyria] is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles. And the people were strengthened [they were encouraged, they were strongly supported] by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
Think of those times when your husband is really discouraged. Maybe he’s just lost his job, maybe he’s struggling with a situation at work. He’s defeated, he’s discouraged. What do you do at those times? When he feels overwhelmed or one of your children is feeling overwhelmed, do you come alongside and do your words just further tear them down or do your words strengthen them by saying, “Honey, God is with us, take courage”? Your words can speak, can breathe courage and strength into hearts of people who feel hopelessly overwhelmed.
Then we come into Nehemiah 4, and we see another illustration of the power of words to discourage or encourage. The context here is that Nehemiah is leading the people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem that have been torn down after years of the people being in exile. So verse 10, “The people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubbish that we cannot rebuild the wall'” (NIV).
The job was so big that the people were discouraged. And they told each other, “This job is too much. It’s too big to handle.” Think of yourself facing a task that you just say, It is bigger than I am. It may be just keeping your house clean. I know for some women that is an overwhelming task especially if you have little ones who are messing it up faster than you can clean it up. And you just feel there is so much rubble, we cannot rebuild, our strength is giving out. So sometimes just the size of the task can be daunting.
And then verse 11 we see there are enemies around them. And the “enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.'” You know that those enemies were Sanballat and Tobiah. They were foreigners who didn’t want to see the work of God progress. They came and spoke discouraging words and said, “We’re going to put an end to this work.” So they were outsiders.
Isn’t this hard for us sometimes, the people that you’re closest to, people that are part of your own family, your own church, they can speak discouraging words.
Verse 12: “The Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.'” I mean, these are the pessimists in the group. These are the people you do not need when you’re trying to get something done for God. “All kids just rebel, and that’s just the way it’s going to be.” Now as a mom, does that encourage you? No way, and we can be so discouraging to one another.
Then God brings Nehemiah to be an encourager, verse 13. He says,
I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. [He spoke words of encouragement, words of faith.] Remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (vv. 14–15)
Encouraging words. Remember the Lord. Yes, the job is big. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, we have enemies. But remember God. He’s bigger. He’s great. He’s awesome. So don’t be afraid of those puny, little enemies out there. Yes, they look huge. But they’re not so big next to God. Fight! Do it!
How thankful I am in this ministry for the people who come alongside of me and they say, “Yes the job is big, but God is bigger. Go out there. Do it.” They strengthen me with their words, as Nehemiah strengthened the Israelites with his words.
Verse 15 tells us, “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work” (NIV). What did God use? Encouraging words.
Soooo? How have you been doing, with encouraging others? Its crucial in the discipleship of other Christians, and essentials to showing Gods love to the world. That is why it must become part of our natural tendencies. I also want to stress that there are a ton more ways to encourage people and the main point I want to get across to everyone reading this is that it is our job as brothers and sisters in Christ to find the way that each of us are encouraged, and then take time to encourage them. If we just do the generic encouragement it lacks sincerity. It also seems extremely superficial.