Although the definition is simple, encouragement has tremendous power. The ability to provide inspiration, spirit, or hope to someone is far more significant than the word itself might imply. Just this week I was informed of an act of remembrance directed to a former pastor by those affected by his life and ministry. We were each invited to write a note of personal remembrance of how he touched our lives. Here’s part of what I wrote: “You not only helped heal my wounds by your powerful preaching of the Word but also by your tender and compassionate attitude …” I will always associate that person with the word “encouragement.”
In his letters to the various churches he founded or the individuals he mentored, the Apostle Paul spoke often on the subject of encouragement either by admonishing others to be an encourager or by passing on appreciation and encouragement to his readers. While we all know it’s relatively easy to do that when things are going well, let’s not forget that Paul was living within the confines of a jail, awaiting his impending death for standing up for Jesus Christ. His words were not merely theological exhortations, they were urgings from the heart of a man who knew how to draw strength and joy from God even in the direst of circumstances.
Sometimes I find myself looking for opportunities to encourage others for “big things” but often there are folks who could use a word of praise or approval as they carry burdens of which we know nothing. Ask God if there is someone who needs an extra word of encouragement and take the opportunity to be the bearer of that word.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had” (Romans 15:5)