“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
Have you ever had someone tell you something and it changed your whole day? Or maybe, someone told you something that changed the course of your life. Perhaps, it was just some encouraging words on a hard day or maybe someone shared their story or life experience. Words can be powerful tools to change our outlook on life for both better and worse.
The New Testament reveals that encouragement was a regular part of the early church’s life together, One example is Acts 16:40: “When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.”
The gift of encouragement is important in our lives. We can come alongside others and be there for one another. We can listen, comfort, console, and affirm. It’s a way of living out the command to extend grace and love to one another.
If you took a few minutes to think about it, each one of us could come up with any number of people who have encouraged us. Like the friend who made you laugh when you thought you may never laugh again. Or the aunt who listened to you while others just talked. Or the small group member who prayed with and for you when you were having doubts. Then ask yourself: “When was the last time I encouraged someone?” It’s not difficult, and the people you encourage are so blessed by it.
Ask God to give you a heart that loves others and the creativity to know how to show it. Ask God for the opportunities and desire to build others up. Ask God to be more like Barnabas. Barnabas was nicknamed the “son of encouragement” by the early church.”For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.” (Acts 4:36). It is a fitting name, as we see him actively encouraging a young follower of Christ, a young church, and a young failure. His encouragement gives us an example to follow in encouraging one another in our own relationships.
Make encouragement a daily discipline. For some of us, encouragement comes naturally, for others, not so much. Find the time daily to send someone an encouraging note, email, text, or phone call. It just may be the encouragement they need.
- Have you ever felt prompted to encourage someone? How did it turn out?
- How is encouraging someone one of the most spiritual things you can do? Who do you want to encourage? How could you spiritually encourage them?