Question – “How important is encouragement to you, and what type of encourager are you?” Encouragement is such a necessity for our lives and in our culture. We all need encouragement, and we all need to be encouraging others. In our text Paul is teaching us how to be encouragers. We need to experience encouragement in our lives, but we also need to express encouragement to others – and we express encouragement by what we say, what we do (or don’t do), and how we live.
Second Question – “What are some ways we can encourage others?” Certainly we can encourage others by speaking words of affirmation and appreciation to them. Every child, teen and adult needs to experience affirmation (praise for who someone is) and appreciation (praise for what someone has done) from significant people in their lives. When we don’t experience affirmation and appreciation from significant people in our lives, we have a “vacuum” that we try to fill with ungodly activities and ambitions.
We can also encourage others in ways beyond speaking words of affirmation or appreciation. Paul mentions several in our text. We can encourage others by honoring our spiritual leaders. Sometimes we forget that our leaders get weary and discouraged because they are on the front line of the battle the Lord’s people are in with the forces of evil. We need to encourage our spiritual leaders by affirming them, appreciating them, honoring them and even serving them whenever possible. Another way we can encourage others is by living peaceably with those around us. People are always encouraged when they observe peace-filled lives, homes and workplaces.
Sometimes encouragement can come from a negative perspective. Paul says that we are to “warn those who are lazy” and “encourage those who are timid.” There are times when our encouragement consists of exhorting people in a loving and sensitive way to forsake bad habits for godly habits.
We can encourage others by taking care of them when they are weak and struggling, or by exhibiting patience in stress-filled situations. It is especially encouraging and helpful for others when we don’t respond to evil by being evil in return. When we respond to evil with loving words and actions that encourages others to respond to obstacles and opposition in a manner that would represent the Lord.
Then, Paul mentions three actions that not only encourage us, but bring encouragement to others. He writes: “Always be joyful. Keep on praying. . . . Always be thankful.” When we are constantly joyful, prayerful and thankful our spirits are uplifted – but others’ spirits are uplifted as well as they observe our faith, hope and joy in the Lord regardless of the circumstances or situations we are experiencing.
Third Question – “Who are some special ‘encouragers’ in your life – and whom do you need to encourage in a better way?” Take time in the upcoming week to thank those who have been used of God to encourage you, and then make it a priority to better encourage those that are on your heart today. The Lord wants us all to be better encouragers, and He will equip us to do so we are focused on Him and surrendered to Him. We must also remember that we will “reap what we sow” (Galatians 6:7)
As you pray today: 1) Ask the Lord to show you how and when you have been a discourager rather than an encourager to others, and seek His (and their) forgiveness; 2) Ask the Lord to show you why you struggle with encouraging others, and ask Him to bring healing and joy to your heart, so that you can be a great encourager to others; 3) Ask the Lord to show you whom He wants you to encourage this day.