Encourage: verb. 1. to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence: She could hear me from the bleachers as I encouraged the runner with obnoxious shouts. 2. to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.: Sometimes, I write “happy-fun-notes” to encourage my friends. 3. to promote, advance, or foster: When she is up to no good, laughter only encourages her.
So, I’d been feeling down earlier this summer, and my feelings of lowness keep trying to come back. But stealthily, God has been encouraging me in so many different ways, as he has this wonderful tendency to do when we need it. Last night (at an hour I so should have been asleep), I looked up “encourage” in the Bible. It was awesome! Here are some of the things I learned:
God has given us eternal encouragement by grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16), and continues to supply us with endurance and encouragement (Rom 15:5)! He grants us this encouragement that we might be toward each other how Christ is toward us. Because, if you remember, the goal, as a Christian, is to be more like Christ (duh). But don’t worry, if you feel like you just can’t, God is right there to pick you up, wrap his arm around your shoulders, and encourage you!
When we find a community of believers, we are to be encouraged by each other’s faith (Romans 1:12). This does not mean go to church and look at the cool shoes your neighbor is wearing or talk about the latest Olympic gold the US brought in. It’s about finding a community and talking about God with each other, what he’s been doing in your life and what he’s been doing in theirs. These communities don’t have to be just church or Christian organizations on your campus, but authentic friendships. And yes, it is so encouraging!
In Paul’s letters to the churches, he continues to encourage them and tells them to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). In conjunction to the one before, you may build someone up by seeing other things that God is doing in them and through them that they may not see. Or you may have found a Word that pertains to another person’s life at the given moment. When you share it with them, God uses it to encourage! It’s awesome how all these bolded statements tie together. But I’m not done yet!
God uses OTHERS to encourage us and uses US to encourage them! All through the book of Acts, the apostles traveled, visiting churches they had at one time planted or found and ENCOURAGED them. Paul does this in his letters, as well. Others encourage us all the time, whether it’s a compliment for practicing that week (which encourages practicing next week) or applause at the end of a performance (encouraging the conductor to take too many bows to acknowledge his orchestra or band or just encouraging the players that they really did a great job). The audience cheers during sporting events and friends in the back seat encourage you to try and make a light as it’s turning yellow. This is kind of a no-brainer, but it still needs to be said. =)
Encouragement is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8). That doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage if you don’t have this gift. It just means that some do it more than others effectively? Not quite sure how to say that nicely. This website has a spiritual gifts test and explains the different spiritual gifts there are. They explain encouragement:
Encouragement (Speaking Gift) – The special ability God gives some to offer comfort, words of encouragement, hope, and reassurance to discouraged, weak, or troubled Christians in such a way that they are consoled. People with this gift: – come to the side of those who are discouraged to reassure them and give them hope – emphasize God’s promises and confidence in his will.
And lastly, the Word encourages (2 Timothy 4:2)! This is really awesome, and God uses this LOTS. My personal encouraging verses/passages right now include: Joshua1:9, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Jeremiah 29:11-14a, and Philippians 4:13. Any verse cam speak words of encouragement to me if the timing is right (which, thanks to God, the timing’s usually perfect)!
God never ceases to encourage us. He sent Christ, his only Son to die for us, that we may have eternal life! What is more encouraging to live this life than the promise we’ll be with God in paradise eternally? His riches and promises as we live in this world are encouraging and never-ceasing. His wondrous deeds and the way he works so mysteriously are encouraging! You just have to see it sometimes. How has God encouraged you recently? Are there any encouraging Bible verses that would go on your list of encouragement to look back on?
Smiling and being encouraged by all God’s encouragement, Anna =)^2