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Encouragement Takes the Sting Out of Life

All of us need encouragement. We need somebody to believe in us. To reassure


and reinforce us. To help us pick up the pieces and go on. I don’t care how
influential, secure, or mature a person may appear to be, an expression of
encouragement never fails to help. All of us need it. Those of us who slug it out
in the trenches of leadership need massive doses of it. Regrettably, most are too
proud to admit it. This pride is as prevalent among members of God’s family as
it is on the streets of the world.

There is more to encouragement than a quick pat on the back. It is a deliberate,


strong commitment to lifting up another’s spirit. For the Christian,
encouragement is rooted in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10
reminds us of just a few of the things we have to be encouraged about:
19
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most
Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a
new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21
And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let
us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting
him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood
to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
23
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can
be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one
another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our
meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another,
especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Heb. 10:19-25
NLT).

Let’s break this scripture down into two parts: 19-21 and 22-25. The first is
what we have and the second part is what we need to do – the application.

In verses 19-21 we see that because of Christ, we can have confidence to


approach God. It may help us to remember that from the time of Moses until
Calvary, anyone wanting to approach God had to do so through a priest and had
to bring an animal to be slaughtered. But now, because of Jesus’s final sacrifice
on the cross, the door to the very throne room of God has been swung open.
With Jesus as our great high priest, we no longer need to slaughter sheep and
bulls on the altar. If we have trusted in Him, we have full access to our
heavenly Father.

In the second half of this scripture, we get some do’s.

 First, we should draw near to God (Hebrews 10:22). We no longer need to


tiptoe to the throne room of God or walk on eggshells in His presence.
Instead, God has invited us to walk boldly to Him across the crimson carpet
Jesus laid down for us.
 Second, we should hold fast to the confession of our hope (10:23). We
have a sure hope that God will keep His promises and that His Word
doesn’t change.
 Third, we should consider how to stimulate one another to love and good
deeds (10:24).
 Fourth, having encouraged us about all we possess in Christ, the writer
further urged us to continue meeting together as a church and encourage
others to live Christlike lives (10:25). We are to encourage our brothers
and sisters in Christ to Discover the New Normal in 2014 – Living God’s
Way.

Barnabas exemplified being a servant of God, who not only accepted his
supporting role but exceled in it. As the apostle Paul’s partner in ministry,
Barnabas encouraged and supported him from the beginning — even before
others trusted Paul (Acts 9:26 – 28).

So what made Barnabas such a good friend to Paul? The name Barnabas
literally means “son of prophecy,” but Acts 4:36 renders it “son of
encouragement.” In both the Old and New Testaments, prophets proclaimed
God’s Word, served as His spokespeople, and reminded God’s people to obey
Him. Perhaps Barnabas reminded Paul of Jesus Christ’s words on the Damascus
road (9:3 – 6) and encouraged Paul to keep walking in faith when he faced
persecution and trials.

When the young, struggling church needed reinforcement, Barnabas, a godly


man who yielded to the Holy Spirit, “began to encourage them all with resolute
heart to remain true to the Lord” (11:23). Barnabas then found Paul and urged
him to take a leadership role. Barnabas recognized the gifts and calling God had
given Paul, and Barnabas took second place. May we all value the role of
encourager as essential to the work of God!

Let’s take a close look at the word itself. Encourage is from the French for put
courage into. Infuse with spirit or courage. Encouragement, as used in Hebrews
10:25 is from the same Greek root used for the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 and
16:7. In both those verses He is called “the Helper.” The actual term, parakaleo,
is from a combination of two smaller words, kaleo, “to call,” and para,
“alongside.” Just as the Holy Spirit is called alongside to help us, so it is with us
when you and I encourage someone else. In fact, when we encourage others, we
come as close to the work of the Holy Spirit as anything we can do in God’s
family.

Believe me, when Christians begin to realize the value of mutual


encouragement, there is no limit to what we can stimulate others to accomplish.
It is thrilling to realize that God has “called us alongside to help” others who are
in need. How much better to be engaged in actions that lift others up rather than
actions that tear them down!

The beautiful part about encouragement is this: anybody can do it. You don’t
need money to carry it out. You don’t even need to be a certain age. All you
have to do is see a need and come alongside. You don’t have to fix the whole
problem, you just have to be there or encourage them, letting them know you
believe they can do it.

I am absolutely convinced that there are thousands of people who are drying up
on the vine simply because of the lack of encouragement. Lonely, forgotten
missionaries, military service men and women far away from home, students
and seminarians, the sick and the dying, the divorced and the grieving, the
unsung faithful who serve behind the scenes with scarcely a glance or comment
from anyone.

Going back to the statement found in Hebrews 10:24, we are to “think of ways
to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” In other words, we are
to give thought to specific ways we can lift up, affirm, and help others. God’s
commands are not theoretical—especially those that relate to people in need.

 Phone calls, emails, text messages, and postcards or thank you notes are
wonderful forms of encouragement.
 Sometimes we can pick up the tab for someone in a restaurant – a
serviceman or woman, for instance. Someone eating alone.
 Notice a job well done and SAY SO to the person who did the job.
 Be supportive of someone who is grieving. You don’t have to say
anything; just be there. Let them know you are thinking of them.
 If someone is in a leadership role in the church, let them know something
they’re doing right rather than just telling them all the ways they are
failing.

Encouragement should take the sting out of life. But be careful not to create
other burdens for those you want to encourage. Don’t look for repayment.
Don’t expect Karma – your good deed will come back to you. Karma says your
bad deeds will come back, too! Do what you do with no expectation of being
noticed or paid back. Expecting something in return is guilt-giving, not an
encouraging action!

Let me end by reminding you where encouragement begins. The desire to


encourage is developed first in the home. It is here that this vital virtue is
cultivated. Children pick it up from their parents, as they become the recipients
of their parents’ words of delight, affirmation, and approval. Numerous surveys
document the sad fact, however, that homes tend to be far more negative than
positive, much less affirming than critical.

I challenge you to make your family different. Start taking whatever steps that
are necessary to cultivate a spirit of positive, reinforcing, consistent
encouragement in your home. Your family will be forever grateful, believe me.
And you will become a much happier person in the process.