Monday, September 7, 2009


Recently I have been learning a lot about the power of encouragement. I am also learning that I don't do near enough of it. My parents might tell you that I did plenty of nagging, trying to self-righteously push them to do things that I thought they should do, but that is not encouragement! Encouragement can come in many different forms though. At summer camp as a kid, I remember doing this thing where everyone would have a paper lunch bag with their name on it and you would write down "warm fuzzies" (compliments, nice things) about everyone on a scrap of paper and put it in their bag. I loved to read mine, I especially treasured the ones that happened to reassure me in an area where I doubted myself the most. Recently, I've seen encouragement in monster cookies sent to a friend competing in an Iron Man (2.5 mile swim, 115 bike, and then a 26.2 mile run--I'm not sure if I have the bike distance right but it's long!), a (second) thank you note a year after the event to a pastor, and the vision I shared in my last post gave great, and perfectly timed, encouragement to that friend.

For whatever reason, I normally don't give that much credit to encouragement and perhaps that is why I don't do it as often as I ought. However, the three recent forms of encouragement described above meant more than I could have ever supposed to the people who received it! I too have been encouraged recently. I performed in some skits at church and afterwards many people encouraged me by telling me that I did a great job. It's a small thing to me tell me that, but to me it meant so much! And you know that perfect timing of the encouraging vision I had? Well, that definitely encouraged me to know that God's totally working. It also reinforced that God has chosen us to do his work. He could have encouraged my friend himself, but instead he chose to work through me. Often God's method of choice is to work through us instead of doing everything himself. In fact, I think because he worked through me, the encouragement my friend received was greater because God was glorified even more and we were both encouraged by it.

As you can see from these different examples encouragement can be many different things, big or small, but they all bless people and give them strength. It is so important that we encourage one another. You see God's people encouraging each other throughout the Bible. Hebrews 3:13 "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." It is important that we encourage because the world is hard and the devil is always on the attack. Add into that the fact that God usually choses us as his method to spread the good news of salvation and you really find need for encouragement. I often either feel inadequate/unworthy to spread the gospel or I'll be selfish and forget (yikes!) about others. Either way, I would benefit from someone practicing 2 Timothy 4:2 on me, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction."

So let us encourage one another with the same purpose as Paul, "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ" (Colossians 2:2). Finally, let us not forget that we already have eternal encouragement from the promise that we will one day be reunited with God where love reigns and there is no more evil or pain. "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (emphasis added).

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