Friday, August 24, 2012

Encouragement - Part Seven

I met Frank years ago. We attended the same church. Frank had the gift of encouragement and I was the recipient of his encouragement on several occasions.

During a frightening period of unknown illness with our youngest child, Frank encouraged us to be positive about the outcome. Not to even speak or think our fears.

During a rebellious season, Frank pulled me back into God’s loving arms and allowed me to see the abundant grace God was willing to lavish upon me.

But Frank’s greatest encouragement came through his prayers. He was (and still is) a great prayer warrior. He knew the exact words to say. He prayed Scripture often. He prayed prayers I had never heard before. And I was encouraged.

In yesterday’s blog post, I listed passages that say we are all to be encouragers. Today we will continue with how and why we are to encourage. I pray that you will listen to God’s Word and act upon them.

How are we to encourage?
There are two passages that speak to this and they say nearly the same thing. We are to be humble. Humility must accompany encouragement.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 – NIV)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (2 Peter 5:6 – NIV)

As we gain encouragement from God, we are then able to encourage others. Through it all, we must remain humble, under God’s mighty hand, and He will do wonderful things.

Why are we to encourage?
I found several reasons mentioned in Scripture for encouragement. Let’s see what God’s Word has to say.

First, we are to be encouraged and encourage for and toward unity. That unity begins with God and then we can become an encourager to others to be united with Christ and with His Church.

Through unity we are able to endure, glorify God, understand the full riches from God and know Jesus Christ.

These passages point us in this direction. Romans 15:5-6; Philippians 2:1-2; and Colossians 2:2.

Certainly without unity we would not be able to encourage one another.

Second, we are to be encouragers because we know the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. Through God and His grace, we are built up and we receive the inheritance.

Acts 20:32 (NIV) says, “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

Through the love and grace from God, we receive eternal encouragement and good hope. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV) says, “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.”

A couple other passages you may want to read about hope are Romans 15:4 and Hebrews 6:18.

When hope abides within us, we really must encourage others to join us. Hope brings life to a discouraged soul. Why wouldn’t we encourage others to grab hold of it?

Third, we see that encouragement leads to strength. Speaking words of encouragement gives our hearts and souls the ability to continue on. To keep on going.

Acts 15:32 (NIV) tells us, “Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers.”

And in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV) we see these words. “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.”

We are strengthened by encouragement and that leads to good deeds and words.

And finally, encouragement can be used for admonition or rebuking. Above I mentioned a season of rebellion against God. Those kind words of encouragement from Frank brought me back to Him. Notice I said kind. We must temper all that we say in love or we take the chance of turning a soul from God completely.

Titus 2:15 (NIV) says, “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.”

I believe this might be the most frightening. But I also believe if we have followed God’s guidelines ourselves, we are able to admonish for the right reason and purpose and are able to do so.

You might want to read Colossians 3:16 and 2 Timothy 4:2 for more insight.

As we draw to a close on this study of encouragement, I pray that you’re understanding has been stretched. I know mine has!

Don’t be stingy with encouraging words. Let them flow from your lips. You never know who you might be an encouragement to.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


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