What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that question? If you have been with me for a while, you knew immediately that I am not talking about a physical building with brick, stone, and mortar. Rather, you immediately picked up on the fact that I am directing your attention to the people of God, whose body is called “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). So let me ask you again: Are you a temple builder?
Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
To be a temple builder is to be an encourager. It is to be the kind of person who lifts others up and comes alongside as wind beneath their wings. And being an encourager is not an option for the Christian; it is as much a command as any other imperative in the Bible.
What is the key to being the kind of encourager God is calling us to be? It is to see others—all others—as what they truly are: image-bearers of the Most High God. As image-bearers, we reflect God through our gifts, talents, abilities, and accomplishments. Encouragement is nothing more and nothing less than finding God’s reflection in the person we see. An encourager acknowledges the truth that God is at work both in and through an individual, which becomes a power source of positive affirmation.
This is the encouragement that builds other up and strengthens their resolve to be all God is calling them to be. It is also the foundation upon which we connect with and evangelize others. Francis Schaeffer said, “One of the best ways to evangelize people is to treat them well through encouragement.” At the deepest level, we all need encouragement. We have been wired by God to need encouragement that builds us up.
It’s important to make a clear distinction between encouragement and flattery. Encouragement is rooted in biblical truth and is expressed for the good of the person we are encouraging. Flattery is smooth, selfish talk that is designed to benefit the one speaking it.
So I ask you once again: are you a temple builder? How would those closest to you answer that question? The Bible contains so many “one another” commands—encourage one another, accept one another, love another, to name only a few—because we need one another! God hard-wired us for community, and community is built upon biblical encouragement. The Bible knows nothing of living in intentional isolation. To be sure, we are saved individually, but we are saved to community.
Jesus modeled just how “other-oriented” we are to be; we are to lay our lives down for each other, which is the supreme demonstration of encouragement. We are all more than we have become, and encouragement is one of the tools God uses to inspire, motivate, and challenge us to keep going when the going gets tough. Biblical encouragement empowers others to expand the borders of their lives to the boundaries of God’s creation, where we spend our time expanding the cause of God’s kingdom rather than our own.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!