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Encouragement and Christian Growth
The Word of God says a lot about the value of encouragement. The Lord commands the believers to “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 KJV). Paul shows that the act of encouraging the disheartened person is not the work only of the leaders of the church. All Christians should get involved in comforting their fellow believers. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Christians need to encourage each other because in the world they will face tribulation (John 16:33). They will be persecuted for the truth and for their Lord. Jesus said, “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). So, they need to help and support each other that their “light affliction, which is but for a moment” will work for them a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
The word of encouragement sustains the believers when they are going through trials (Hebrews 12:5). It helps them develop patience (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-26). And it inspires them with hope and faith (Romans 15:4). Disgorgement attacks all, even God’s servants. The prophet Elijah was very discouraged he even “prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4). But the Lord, in mercy, sent His angel and encouraged him and sustained his physical needs (verse 5).
Solomon wrote, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Science shows that there is a clear relation between words, moods, and health. Unsympathetic, hostile words bring sickness both to the speaker and to the hearer; but words of encouragement and kindness bring healing to the body.
The Proof of Discipleship
Continual, manifestations of kindness and encouragement are the proofs of discipleship. Paul defines this expression of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Loving one another is shown by encouraging one another. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:34-35).
The new command urges people to preserve the same relationship with one another that Jesus had with them. Where the old commandment urged people to love their neighbors as themselves, the new one admonishes them to love as Jesus had loved. The new is, in fact, more difficult than the old, but the grace of God for its observing is given freely to all that seek it (Philippians 4:13).
In the early church, a man by the name of Joseph was given the nickname “Barnabas,” which means “Son of Encouragement,” “son of consolation,” or “son of exhortation” (Acts 4:36). Barnabas was characterized by the gift of encouragement. The Bible tells us that “when he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23). He truly lived up to his name as he was a blessing to all that ministered with him.
When the believer receives daily encouragement from the Lord through His inspired Word, he obtains divine strength and gets empowered to go upward, always reaching new heights of achievement. Thus, God “satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalms 103:5). Through the Lord’s encouraging words, the forgiven sinner shows the freshness of renewed youth.
The encouraged believer moves on from grace to grace and from victory to victory (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14). “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). And eventually, he attains to “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
In His service,