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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Ministry of Encouragement

Have you ever gone to church after having a rough week, and everyone you meet is complaining? This One* says he’s mad with the people at his workplace. That One complains about unfair treatment somewhere else. This Lady complains about pain. That Lady complains about her husband. This Man tells you all the dirt on a co-worker. That Man shakes your hand but has a sour face. Thankfully, the Pastor then preaches the Word and helps you focus on God, on His goodness and mercy. The hymns focus on God’s greatness. You leave with a song in your heart and a promise to yourself to be different, to be . . .

an encourager.

Oh, how easy it is to be a discourager! All we have to do is be what the Bible calls carnal. We’re self-focused, which is code language for selfish. We forget that every other Christian around us—and non-Christian, too—has problems. Some of those problems are minor, and some are heartbreaking. Each person we know is battling some kind of a battle.

But, we happily focus on our own misery! I know some people who revel in being miserable. They’re never so “happy” as when they have something to complain about. “Nobody suffers more than me.” (I’ve actually heard people say that!)

It is truly easier to think of ourselves instead of thinking of others. After all, we live with ourselves. We are very well acquainted with our own pains, needs, and situations. Oh yes, it’s easy to be all tied up with ourselves.

But, it’s not God’s way.

Jesus is our best example. Read this: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

Jesus, equal with God, made himself of no reputation to be made a man! That’s not all; He humbled Himself and died on the cross. He did it out of love for you and me. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . . (John 3:16a).

In the same Philippians passage cited above, God, through the Apostle Paul, gives this instruction to Christians: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others (2:3-4).

Many, many Bible passages exhort us to love others, especially those of like faith.

Here are a few that urge us to look beyond ourselves to encourage others:
  • Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10).
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).
  • Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify (build up) one another, even as also ye do (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25). This is talking about encouraging each other in a church setting. 

When we are being more Christ-like, we will think more about others. We put them first.

What’s better for others?
  • They don’t want to listen to complaining. (I’m not talking about legitimate prayer requests; I’m talking about squawking.)
  • They want to be encouraged by your smile, your pleasant words, and your genuine support.
  • They are positively affected by your godly joy.
  • They need encouragement in the Lord. They need to hear from your lips words that spur them on in their Christian walk.
  • They need to be built up and not torn down. They need to be shown that you value them as they are. Words like “shut up” don’t show them respect.
  • A compliment goes a long way towards encouraging. If someone does or says something helpful, let them know. Thank them. Tell them, “Well done.”
  • If anyone genuinely needs correcting, talk to him privately. An issue is best dealt with after sincere prayer and in love. People can tell if you love them, even if they need correction. (Matthew 18:15-17)
  • If a person does something dumb, and it’s not a serious offence, overlook it, and forgive it. (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9)
  • In any interpersonal relationship, be mindful of The Golden Rule: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Luke 6:31). If you would love someone to treat you that way; treat others like that. If not, not.
  • Walk closely with the Lord. People can sense your glow when you reflect the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. It’s contagious—in a positive way. 

Let’s go out and encourage someone today!

What kinds of Christian encouragement do you like?

*All of the illustrations in this paragraph are entirely made up. They have no basis whatsoever in any of my recent experiences. They are, however, typical.


  1. So true...the Scripture is powerful. Exactly what we need to light our path. More Love in action.


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