Saturday, March 24, 2018

Be an Encourager


lightstock_66085_xsmall_user_3844373When’s the last time you heard someone say they have the gift of encouragement as found in Romans 12:7-8? We often hear Christians say they have the gift of tongues, prophesy or healing, but no one talks about being an encourager. Certainly, there’s no lack of discouragement in the world. It’s something we have to deal with from sources internal and external. Whether we have the gift of encouragement or not; It doesn’t take much to encourage; a thoughtful word or kind deed will often go a long way. To be honest, sometimes we don’t know to respond to someone who is discouraged or grieving. We fear we might fumble over our words or make matters worse.

Remember Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar; they intended to sympathize and comfort him after great losses and pain. Job lost his children, livelihood, and his health diminished in a very short time (Job 1-2). The Bible says, “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13). They remained silent for seven whole days; quite a feat compared to today’s standards. Job was the first to break the silence; he began expressing his pain, grief, and confusion. Job’s friends may have meant well, but in his reply to Eliphaz in chapter 16:1-5, he says,

“You are all miserable comforters. Is there no end to your empty words? What provokes you that you continue testifying? If you were in my place, I could also talk like you. I could string words together against you and shake my head at you. Instead, I would encourage you with my mouth, and the consolation from my lips would bring relief.”

Obviously Job isn’t feeling very encouraged or comforted; he feels humiliated and mistreated by the very ones who sought to help him in his time of sorrow (Job 19:3). How do we avoid making the ones we love and care for feel worse in their time of grief or discouragement? While definitely not a cure all, our presence oftentimes is more than enough. A hug or the holding of a hand can be just as meaningful as any word or deed. We can pray to the Lord for guidance in what to do or say. We can pray with them; we need not feel helpless.

As believers, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate Encourager. Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Parakletos,” a Greek term found in the book of John which is  interpreted as “Advocate,” “Helper,” “Comforter,” or “Counselor” in most Bibles. He comes along side us in our sorrow, pain, and discouragement. We are never alone in our time of need. We are never alone when we offer comfort to our sisters and brothers in Christ, our family, or friends. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps in weakness and when we don’t know what we should pray (Rom. 8:26).

The Bible calls us to bear one another’s burdens even as we endure our own (Gal.6.2, Phil 2:4). We also build faith as we encourage, since it extinguishes the fiery darts of Satan (1Thess 5:11, Gal 6:16). We have a duty to the Lord and fellow Christians to encourage. We can encourage because we ourselves are being encouraged by the Lord through His Spirit.

“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing” 1 Thes. 5:11


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