Everyone wants encouragement, but often we fail to build others up in quality ways. Jesus said: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35).
Jesus taught what it means to love others. He told them, “Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.”
When we as disciples of Christ truly love and encourage those around us, we then can be genuine conduits of God’s mercy and grace. Encouragement, Christlike saturated encouragement, is an avenue in which those seeking to be faithful disciples of Jesus can separate ourselves from lukewarm or even hypocritical Christians who are tainting the mission of Christ and who are making living for God more about their agenda and preferences. Most of the world that’s apart from Christ has a view of Christians that doesn’t reflect God’s love — they have a view Christians are judgmental, or even hypocritical. After all, they see churches “competing” with one another and see those in church gossiping about one another or putting down other churches!
Scripture gives us a pattern of encouragement to follow. Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another day after day ...”
In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, we’re told to “comfort one another” with words, and in the next chapter, in chapter five, verse 11 it says to comfort or “encourage one another and build up one another.”
God’s heart for encouragement isn’t focused on complementing someone’s haircut or telling them how good their homemade lasagna tastes. That kind of encouragement is nice, but Christ saturated encouragement is rooted in the love of God and in seeking to build his kingdom through this work. Christ-saturated encouragement is shared with the hopes it points others to the Lord. It points out evidences of God’s grace in another’s life to help them see he’s at work. It points a person to God’s promises that assures them all they face is under his control.
Through the book of Acts, we see encouragement at work in places like Acts 13:15, or 16:40, or 20:1-2. They share Christ statured words of encouragement in order to push people toward God, to inspire one another in faith, hope, unity, joy, strength, fruitfulness, faithfulness, perseverance, and to the truth God is coming again. Encouragement was and is an essential way of extending grace to one another. God doesn’t just say, encourage someone else if you feel like it or if it’s easy to do so. Encouraging others is a command of God for those who call themselves his disciples.
So what should you do? Start by praying, asking God to make you an encourager. Then take to study people in the word of God who had true hearts of encouragement. This will help you to make encouraging others a daily discipline in your life and it will allow you to be in tune with the Holy Spirit so as he reveals to you needs, you will be able to hear and respond with Christ-saturated encouragement. After all, we should be praying regularly, asking God to show us who we can love and how we can encourage them and how we can point them to him.
If you need something to encourage people with, then run to God’s word. Nothing encourages us like promises from God’s word. Make a list of scriptures God has used in your life so you’re ready with that list of promises to share with others. And when you encourage, be specific in what you say, and be honest and real. Don’t blow smoke. Don’t just look for something to “celebrate” and try to be nice. Love doesn’t lie. Love is honest and real. Regularly look for ways you can encourage your family, your friends, people at your job, even your pastor and church leadership. Take your eyes off of yourself and let God transform your heart for reflecting his love and heart for encouragement.
So go get started! Who can you encourage right now? Who has encouraged you recently you can thank? How might God use this action to speak his message of love and hope and redemption?
May we seek God and to reflect his love for others and his heart to seek and save the lost and hurting of our community. And may God create a culture of encouragement in your life, in your church and in our community.
Nick Emery is the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.