The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 3

Be An Encourager

In a society which emphasizes much on achievement and success, it is difficult for many to survive without being blamed or criticized for any failure, or mistakes made. When someone steps down from any organization or quits from a post, there will often be speculation that that he must have bungled somewhere in his assignment. The comments on social media are quite hateful many times, and can cause much pain to the recipients of these caustic comments. A few are unable to accept the criticisms, and have chosen a fatal end. It becomes even more painful when the death involves a child who was unable to bear the failure.

What does the Bible say about being encouragers?

Paul wrote many words of encouragement or of comfort in his letters to many churches. Paul suffered much pain in his Christian life, but he saw God’s hand in encouraging him, providing for him, and giving him strength to carry on despite all difficulties. Paul shared about “the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4)

The Greek word for encouragement is “paraklesis” which refers to one’s calling to one side or to aid which can be the purpose of providing solace, comfort, consolation, and encouragement.

The Apostle Paul encountered many moments of failure, adversity, disappointments and despair. He was rejected by the believers when he first became a Christian in Damascus. He spent many days in synagogues preaching that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (Acts 9:19-22). Those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” Despite all these, Paul (or then known as Saul) grew stronger, and this confounded the Jews in Damascus, who later plotted to kill him. When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the other disciples, but they avoided him out of fear as they “believed not that he was a disciple.” (vs 26)

1) An encourager introduces one to others

But among the disciples was one called Barnabas. He “took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” (vs 27) Barnabas was an encourager. He came alongside of Paul, and introduced him to the Apostles. And from him, Paul must have learnt how to encourage others too.

2) An encourager shows compassion

The Good Samaritan was one who showed compassion to the stranger who was robbed and wounded on his journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. He had compassion on the injured man, and approached him, bound up his wound, poured oil and wine on it, and placed him on his donkey, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. He even gave two pence to the innkeeper and requested of him to take care of the injured man. He also promised to return to pay him for additional expenses incurred. (Lk 10:30- 35) This Samaritan man did more than any encourager would do for others.

As followers of Christ, we need to show compassion towards others. There are some who may have been hurt, or facing problems in life. Are we aware of what they are going through? Do we take time to find out how we can help them, or do we ignore them? Let us not be like “a certain priest” who saw the injured man, and “passed by on the other side”; or like the “Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked at him, and passed by on the other side.” (Lk 10:31-32)

3) An encourager is mindful of others

In the epistle to the Philippians, Paul told the Christians at Philippi that he would rejoice if there were “any comfort of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies” (Phil 2:1-2). He was saying that if the Philippian Christian were known to encourage others, it was a fulfillment of joy to him. He urged them to be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil 2:2).

It is easy to be caught up in our own cliques, chat groups, HCGs, or BS group or even family. It is easy to be so caught up with our own conversations that we ignore others around us who could be longing for a few words of encouragement. Let us break out of our comfort zone, and take positive steps to encourage others with a smile, a handshake, some words of comfort, even a note of encouragement.

4) An encourager – A Christian duty

William Barclay said: “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement…it is easy to laugh at man’s ideals. It is easy to pour cold water on the enthusiasm. It is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer had kept a man on his fee. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

The Holy Spirit encourages us so that we can encourage others. He is the ultimate source of encouragement, comfort and consolation. We need not run elsewhere when we are in distress, but rush to Christ our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13), our Consolation (2 Cor 1:5), our Refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1).

The New Year may bring good news for some; but for others, it may not bring good news. Whatever may come in the days, weeks and months ahead, let us be mindful of those around us. Let us be sensitive to the problems that some may be facing. Let us take action to encourage those who are facing failure, illness, setbacks in studies, work or business. Let us turn to the one next to us, the one sitting in front or behind us, and give a smile or a word of encouragement. Let us be an encourager in the Lord.

Pastor Bob Phee

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