When Jesus saved you, He placed you into His body—the church. The Christian life was never meant to be lived in intentional isolation—which, sadly, is how far too many Christians live. As a member of the body of Christ, each person is as needed and as valuable as the next. And one of the most important roles we can all play in one another’s lives is to be an encourager. I call encouragement “Christian Vitamin C.”
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Everyone is carrying a burden. Look closely into the eyes of the people around you and you will see their desperate longing for a little encouragement . . . a kind word . . . a pat on the back . . . a warm smile. Encouragement is to the soul what vitamin C is to the body. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb,” Proverbs 16:24 asserts, “sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
There’s just one problem: we are not encouragers by nature. Our sinful self-centeredness keeps us from encouraging others. We are consumed with OUR dreams, OUR goals, OUR desires, OUR sorrows, OUR suffering, OUR success, OUR doubts, OUR fears. Our mantra is Jesus and ME . . . not Jesus and we!
Only the power of the Gospel can free us from the suffocating prison of self-absorption. The Gospel shifts our focus from self to the Savior; when we are focused on the Savior He redirects our focus to others so that we might minister in His name. And one of the greatest ministries we can all have, regardless of our gifting and calling, is to be an encourager.
Scripture is quite direct on this point: “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
William Barclay put it this way:
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 if 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 has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.
So . . . what about you? Are you such a person? Do you speak encouragement into the lives of others?
Here’s another crucial question: do you have an encourager in your life? Someone who speaks life into your life? If you can say yes, get on your face before the Living God and thank Him for this incredible gift! I thank God daily for the many encouragers He has given me: my beloved wife and best friend, Kim; my mentor, Clark; and several brothers in Christ. There is one man whom I’ve nicknamed “Brother Barnabas” (Barnabas means “son of encouragement”), because of the daily dose of the Christian Vitamin C he gives to me. I thank God for Kim, Clark, and all those who pour words of life and love into me. And I also make it a point to give heartfelt thanks to my encouragers. Those like Barnabas, who are wired as encouragers, need to receive encouragement every bit as much as those to whom they deliver it.
If you don’t have an encourager in your life, why don’t you make a point of being an encourager in the lives of everyone you meet? Jesus put it this way: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). If you want encouragement from others, you be an encourager to them. Everyone needs a daily dose of Christian Vitamin C!
Ultimately, the Gospel is our greatest source of encouragement. That is why we need to continually preach it to ourselves. But as we’ve seen, God has called each Christian to fill the role of encourager in the lives of others. Encouragement is divinely designed to keep us from being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. That is powerful stuff!
“Let us encourage one another,” the letter to the Hebrews exhorts. Jesus gave us the Gospel to empower our encouragement through a reorientation toward others and away from ourselves.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!