The Importance of Practicing Encouragement
Years ago, when my daughter Addi was approximately 8 or 9 years old, as we paid for our groceries at the cash register in Smith's, Addi said something truly profound. On her own accord, she thanked the cashier for her hard work and said, "God loves you and so do I." To be honest with you, it was a bit of an uncomfortable moment for me. I kind of laughed under my breath awkwardly, not sure how the woman would respond. To our surprise, the cashier paused and then began to cry. She walked around the cash register, gave my daughter a big hug, and said, "I really needed to hear that. That made my day. Thank you!"
Here is what I learned from my young daughter that day...
Number one, I need to be much bolder about giving encouragement. My daughter fearlessly encouraged that day because of the love of God, and I am called to do the same…period. So are you Christian. In fact, we are actually called to encourage daily! "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13, NASB).
Number two, people are desperate for encouragement. People everywhere need a good word, a word of hope, a word of thanks, a word of care, a word of love. Charles Swindoll was so right when he said, "The lack of encouragement is almost an epidemic. To illustrate this point, when did you last encourage someone else? I firmly believe that an individual is never more Christ-like than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged, or forgotten. How terribly essential is our commitment to encouragement!" It is so true. The world we broke because of our sin can seem so void of encouragement, of hope. Anxiety abounds. Worry is pervasive. But let us remember Proverbs 12:25 (NLT)-"Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up."
Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ, you have received the greatest gift ever given--Jesus, and salvation through Him! The wrath we deserve has been pardoned, and because of this we will live eternally with the Author of joy, hope and life! So, we must encourage! 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (ESV) says it this way-"For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
So, let me encourage you to encourage often and freely! If you are a pastor, make every effort in the power of the Spirit to build up your flock. Do it with individuals. Do it when you are all gathered together. If you are a member of a church, encourage your elders, your deacons, the children's ministry workers, etc. They can use it! No matter who you are, encourage your family. Encourage those you minister with. Encourage your friends, co-workers, strangers, whoever. We have Jesus! We have the Good News! Therefore, we have every reason to build others up for the glory of God. Say the kind words. Make the call. Send the uplifting text or email. Through the strength of Christ, let us passionately follow Ephesians 4:29 (NASB), "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need for the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."
Scott Iken is the Associate Pastor at Calvary Church Littleton. Scott loves spending time with his wife and four kids. He enjoys sports, music, laughing, the mountains, and being silly.