As the Apostle Paul wrapped up his second letter to the Christian believers living in the Greek city of Corinth, he wrote these words:
“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” — 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)
While there are so many things noteworthy about the instructions Paul gave in this verse, let’s focus our attention on one simple phrase. “Encourage each other.” What a different world we would live in if we all put this into practice!
Recently my wife and I were discussing someone very dear to us. We both would describe this lady as an incredible encourager. She lives to bring encouragement to others. Her words and notes are always upbuilding, affirming, helpful and timely. Although she has problems and challenges of her own, she never ceases to communicate positive, encouraging comments to other people. She is doing what the Lord wants all of us to do!
While some people seem to encourage others naturally, every believer should develop this quality. It is not a gift for a few, it is an action to be practiced by all.
What does it mean to encourage others? How do we do it?
One of the words translated as “encouragement” in the Bible comes from a Hebrew term meaning “to feed and tend.” It was used to describe shepherds taking their sheep to good pastureland where they would graze until satisfied. The shepherds “encouraged” their sheep by making sure they were nourished and strengthened.
In spiritual and emotional ways, we are called to do the same today. We are to feed others in ways that build their faith, increase their confidence in God, help them make decisions to live for God’s purposes and believe in God’s plan for their lives. We are called to help lift others up!
Take a look at another instruction from the Apostle Paul that underscores this call to encourage others:
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” — Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
Sadly, instead of encouraging others, many seem to possess a unique skill for discouraging people! Don’t let this be you!
We’re all blessed when encouragers show up in our lives. We remember them and gravitate toward them. Encouragers rise above the crowd, principally because there are so few of them. Decide to be a part of this select group!