I think encouraging fellow believers, encouraging anyone actually, is a lost and forgotten art. It doesn’t seem to happen much, at all. Why is it so difficult to encourage those around us? Why is it hard to point out great qualities to those around us and encourage them in who God made them? I know very few people who do this. I’m excluding myself from those people. I am a horrible encourager. It’s something that I feel God is asking me to begin to practice.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to be encouraging to each other, daily. This is not an option, it is a command.
Healthy Community Promise (from my days at BG):
-As we interact, I will look not only as to how I can give to you, but eagerly seek the blessing of receiving from you.
-Knowing that God has uniquely created you to be who you are, I will seek to encourage you in your particular strengths, giftedness and opinions – without trying to make you become like me.
-I commit to you verbal expressions of appreciation and love. If I am encouraged by your life, growth, successes, decisions or gestures – I will not rob you of the joy of hearing how you have blessed me.
-If I see you have an emotional, relational or physical need, I will prayerfully consider that which will best tangibly minister to you.
- not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:25
- and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, – 1 Thessalonians 3:2
- Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
- And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.- 1 Thessalonians 5:14
- and let us consider how to spur up one another to love and good deeds, - Hebrews 10:24
- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29
- But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. – Hebrews 3:13
- Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
- And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.. – Ephesians 5:18-19
Hindrances: Self Reflection and Observation
I think I expect others to be like me, and when they aren’t I don’t encourage them OR appreciate the unique way God made them. I see the parts of their personality that are different then me as “wrong” because I can’t understand them, and rather then encourage who God made them, I draw back or judge – which is probably pretty discouraging to them.
As I observe here and there what others around America have shared with their experience with this, it seems pretty common. It’s a rarity to find a group of people who can really enjoy and appreciate all types of people for who God made them.
Another thing I notice about myself is that I joke around way to much…to the point it could hurt others when I don’t mean to. I don’t think joking is wrong, but, there is a line and we need to walk in the spirit. I’ve seen some people pretty discouraged and then hurt because of coarse joking, we need to be encouraging each other…in every way possible.
….And then there is “the least of these”. Who are these people? They are the ones we would define as the “most difficult to love”. Who wants to encourage them? No one. Why? Because we all know that when you take time to encourage someone, that person will be drawn to you because you are giving them life. Because of this, these people are not encouraged or sought after. Not only am I probably the most guilty of all in this, but, darn it, I AM the least of these, especially in this season of life. It’s hard being around “the least of these”. But, the bible is clear – whatever we do for the “least of these” we have done to Christ.
A Challenge: To Myself and Others
-Take time to love those who are hardest in your life to love currently.
-Choose one friend a week and love on them and encourage them all week. Do you have a blog? Facebook? Any social media? Honor them this week with these avenues.
- Find a friend who is most opposite of you- call out their giftedness.
-Find a brother or sister in Christ who is bearing a heavy burden. Ask them how you can help. Don’t just help for the day or week, or until you feel “done”, help until that brother or sister has finished walking through whatever burden they bear…even if it takes years.
-Befriend someone who is completely and totally opposite of you in every way. Get to know them, be in their life, appreciate them, learn from them, and mostly – find Christ’s character and personality in those characteristics that are most different from you.
- When you are tempted to harshly joke with someone, even in “good fun”, choose instead to encourage.