A number of thoughts swirl through my mind today and they all center on the importance of encouragement. Just as sunshine after the rain brings a beautiful sky and cheer to one's heart, so an encouraging word (or several words) brightens the soul which is hurting or tired or simply in need of encouragement. Look around - you can often see those in need of it. Then again, many who are the "smiley-est" people are the ones who need it the most!
The Bible repeatedly emphasizes the importance of encouragement. Just a cursory search brings up these principles:
- We are to encourage "stooping hearts" by making them glad with a "good word" - Proverbs 12:25.
- We are to speak to the needs of those around us - Proverbs 25:11
- We are to "sharpen" one another - Proverbs 27:17
- Exhortation and encouragement should function regularly in the church - Acts 15:32.
- We are to bear one another's burdens - Galatians 6:2.
- Love is the basis for encouragement and comfort - Colossians2:2.
- The body of Christ is to be active in edifying one another - I Thessalonians 5:11.
- We are to comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, and be patient toward all men - I Thessalonians 5:14.
- We are to provoke one another to good works - Hebrews 10:24.
- We are to exhort one another in living for the Lord - Hebrews 10:25.
- We are to actively love one another in Christ - Hebrews 13:1.
Not one aspect of life is excluded when it comes to encouragement. We are to encourage one another to read the Bible, to memorize the Word, to reach the lost with the Gospel and to pray. We should encourage moms with newborns and parents with wayward teens, pastors who have been faithfully serving the flock and missionaries who are thriving or tired or burning out. We should encourage sisters and brothers and friends and acquaintances and people we may not even know well - because that word of encouragement might be the ONLY one they hear that day or week!
In our day of "likes" and "dislikes" and criticism for everything from restaurants on Yelp to movies on Rotten Tomatoes, we forget how immensely powerful encouragement can be. I would like to encourage you today - pick someone you know who might need encouragement and call them up or send them a text or write them a nice card and tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell them what about them encourages you and how you see them striving on in the Lord. You never know what a difference that word of encouragement can make!
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.