By Shawn McMullen
It may have taken my coworker 20 seconds to write and send the brief e-mail, but those 20 seconds—and the thought behind them—made my day. A little encouragement goes a long way.
The New Testament is filled with practical guidelines for blessing others and building meaningful relationships in the body of Christ. The command to encourage one another is among them.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is . . . to encourage, then give encouragement” (Romans 12:6-8).
“Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
Encouragement is vital to the Christian experience. Even though God gives some members of the body a special capacity to encourage others, every believer is called by God to build up those around him—helping them grow in faith and maturity, protecting them from sin’s hardening effects, challenging them to persevere as they live in anticipation of Christ’s return.
We need to be encouraged and we need to encourage others. But even as we consciously attempt to build others up, we must remember that some of the people we attempt to encourage won’t know how to accept encouragement. Some will cry out for it while others will remain silent, hoping someone will notice and respond. Some will pretend not to need it, but secretly crave it. Others won’t feel worthy.
Obstacles like these should not keep us from encouraging others, although they remind us to act with understanding and sensitivity. Whether or not people respond to our efforts, we must do our best faithfully and diligently to build them up in Christ, trusting they will be blessed by our words and actions.
Why not make a list of people to encourage this week? A personal visit, a card, a phone call, or an unexpected act of kindness will mean more to some folks than you can imagine. Let your brothers and sisters in Christ know you love and appreciate them. It’s a simple and practical application of Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”
You’ll most likely find that you’ll be encouraged beyond measure as you encourage others.