And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10: 24 – 25
Can you think of a time when someone’s words to you were exactly what you needed to hear at the time? A time when their words were so powerful and so encouraging that it honestly made you look at yourself or your situation differently and you were able to move on with confidence?
I remember an incident at the beginning of my 5th grade year when I had been separated from all my friends and I was feeling disappointed and quite sad. My teacher, Mrs. Carson, held up a paper before the class that I had written and said, “Look at this nice handwriting! Look how neat this is! Now this is the way I want you to do your assignments!”
Whoa! Here I was – this shy, insecure, young girl, who felt like I was never noticed (except for my wild, curly, bright red hair which earned me the nickname “Firetruck”), and suddenly I saw myself differently! I was worthy of her attention and I knew right then, friends or not, it was going to be a great year!
What simple words of encouragement, but what a difference it made in my attitude! There have been many other experiences through the years when the words of a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger has “spurred” me on and given me the courage to move on, try harder, and believe in myself. I am sure many of you can remember similar instances when someone’s reassuring words strengthened your heart. We all need words of encouragement more than we sometimes even realize!
I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give is the one of supporting and encouraging each other. What other gift could be more meaningful and more appreciated, but yet require so little of our time, effort, and resources!
It seems like such a simple thing to do, but yet it doesn’t come naturally or easily for some. Lifting each other’s spirits doesn’t just happen by chance. In fact, God must have known we would need instructions on how to do so.
Paul teaches us that it is an act of love that needs to be intentional, and that over time, we can offer it more easily as we begin to focus more on loving others than thinking about ourselves. Encouragement is more than just paying someone a passing compliment, or saying something to make an individual feel better about himself. It’s about encouraging others on to something greater as we lift their spirits with our love and compassion.
The Hebrew term that is used in Scripture for “encourage” means “to call to one’s side, to comfort, to console, to strengthen, to give courage”. With all the many issues we deal with in life such as illness, pain, discouragement, weariness, despair, fear, loneliness, confusion, insecurity, and hopelessness, we need each other to help us through the difficult times.
And even when life is good, we still need to know others care enough about us to urge us on. When encouraging others, we may need to give an understanding ear, a gentle touch or hug, a note, a phone call, a word of appreciation, or some act of kindness to let them know that we value them, we have confidence in them, and that we are pulling for them and cheering them on. When we strengthen others with our love, we are showing that we care about what they are experiencing or feeling, and we are trying to give them what they need at the time they need it most.
Encouraging others is a gracious and powerful way to minister to their needs. We are called to lovingly encourage one another, to strengthen, console, and touch each other’s lives.
Nowhere else is this gift needed more than in our walk of faith. We need to spur each other on to stand firm for Christ in a world that rejects and denies Him. We, as believers are often ridiculed for our faith and called naive and lacking in intelligence and wisdom. We are often seen as intolerant and narrow-minded.
When confronted with such attacks, we may even begin to question our beliefs, especially when those who make such claims are being treated by the rest of the world with such respect and high regard. Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected and despised. He understood that the day would come when we too would be rejected because of Him, and He knew we would need the love and support of fellow believers.
Scripture tells us that those times will increase as the “Day” for His return nears. We need to remind each other, our children, our grandchildren, and to pass down our heritage of faith to future generations, to stand firm in faith and not let the contempt of godless men and women lessen our beliefs in God – the One whose love gives us hope and assurance for all eternity.
Dear God, help us to be more sensitive and caring to those around us who may need encouragement. May we be that voice that can help lift their spirits and spur them on. May we encourage our fellow believers who may become discouraged to trust in you for strength, hope, and peace. Thank you for your presence and your grace in our lives. Amen
*If you are reading these Daily Devotions in 2015, you may want to scroll forward to April 13th tomorrow and read the entry on Palm Sunday, as well as through April 20th. These entries include Scripture passages about the Easter story. (In 2014, Easter Sunday was much later – on April 20th.)