Lessons In Encouragement--by Kimberly B. Southall
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Everyone needs encouragement. But do we truly realize what the aspects and rewards of encouragement are? A quick tour through the Bible in search of the word "encourage" in its many forms taught me some lessons about encouragement. Let me share with you what I learned:

  1. Endurance and encouragement comes from God (Romans 15:5).
  2. The Lord Himself encourages the afflicted (Psalm 10:17).
  3. The Holy Spirit encourages those in Christ's church (Acts 9:31).
  4. The encouragement which comes from God is not only for the eternal, but also for the "here and now" (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
  5. Encouragement in heart and mind precedes complete understanding of the mystery of God, which is Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:2-3).
  6. One of the purposes of the gift of prophecy is to encourage those who listen (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31).
  7. Because of God's faithfulness in keeping his promise to Abraham, we can be encouraged by the promises He has made to us (Hebrews 6:13-18).
  8. Church leaders' adherence to the truth of God's Word serves to encourage others by their example, and it also enables them to refute those who oppose the truth (Titus 1:9)
  9. God wants church leaders to both give encouragement to and receive encouragement from others (Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28; 2 Chronicles 32:6; 2 Chronicles 35:2).
  10. Our helping to refresh other Christians serves to be an encouragement to our spiritual leaders (Philemon 1:1-2, 7).
  11. The mere fact that we are sons (or daughters) of God is quite an encouragement. Think of it--a child of the living God (Hebrews 12:5)!
  12. Reminders of our glorious future with God never fails to encourage (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11).
  13. Whatever encouragement we have received from being united with Christ, we are to use toward unity with fellow Christians (Philippians 2:1-2).
  14. The Bible itself is a letter of encouragement from God to us (Romans 15:4)!
  15. Encouragement can take many forms--sometimes a letter, note, or card of encouragement can do wonders. And if someone can also provide encouragement in person, all the better. We will be blessed for our efforts in encouraging others (Acts 15:30-33).
  16. Sometimes there is no substitute for literally being there for someone when they need to be encouraged (Acts 28:15).
  17. Each of us needs encouragement on a regular basis in order to keep from being deceived by the lure of sin (Hebrews 3:13).
  18. Encouragement is vital when teaching others to accomplish difficult tasks (Titus 2:6)
  19. Encouragement, rather than visions of possible gloom and doom, should be our endeavor when a brother or sister in Christ wants to embark on a Christian mission. Coupled with a glowing recommendation, encouragement often proves to help one succeed with his mission (Acts 18:27-28).
  20. A good report about fellow Christians can also serve as or be accompanied by encouragement (Ephesians 6:21-22; Colossians 4:8).
  21. In the face of discouragement, danger, and the unknown, we are to encourage one another (Judges 20:22; Acts 20:1).
  22. Encouragement isn't always all "hearts and flowers." Sometimes, the best encouragement is the hard, cold truth and the message that, with God's help, we can deal with whatever hardship lies ahead (Acts 14:21-22).
  23. We should not selfishly "lick our wounds" when we are treated unfairly. Instead, we should look for opportunities to be of service and encouragement to others wherever we go and whatever we do (Acts 16:38-40; Acts 20:2).
  24. Even in the face of adversity, when we are tempted to be discouraged and give up, we should instead tend to the interests and needs of others (Acts 27:13-36).
  25. Sometimes the hardships we endure can actually be used by God to serve as encouragement for others to remain steadfast in His service (Philippians 1:14).
  26. Encouragement is a two-way street. It's a win-win exchange (Romans 1:11-12).
  27. If we are faithful in a ministry of encouragement, others may recognize our efforts and appreciate them, and we may gain a good name or reputation (Acts 4:36).
  28. Encouragement can be used with wrong motives, for wrong purposes, and can lead others astray--and God sees it all (2 Chronicles 22:3; Psalm 64:5).
  29. There will be a price to pay if we fail to encourage those who need it and instead encourage others to do what is wrong (Ezekiel 13:22-23).
  30. We should carefully check our motives as well as our words to ensure that we are encouraging rather than discouraging when our friends need it most (Job 16:5).
  31. We should remain patient and use careful instruction when we encourage others (2 Timothy 4:2).
  32. God's commands to encourage are not just for those who are currently following Him. Instead, encouragement is of such importance that God takes the time to warn everyone to give encouragement to those who need it most (Isaiah 1:17).
  33. When we are given an opportunity to encourage others, we ought to wisely include the message which can be of the most encouragement to anyone--that of salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 13:15-41).
  34. When we write or speak (or in whatever we do), one of our goals should be to encourage others, remind them of the true grace of God, and help them to stand fast in it (1 Peter 5:12).
  35. We should lovingly encourage others to live a life worthy of God (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
  36. We should be mindful of those who may not be as strong in the faith as we are and encourage them to "hang in there" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
  37. Sometimes our progress--the changes others see in us--serves to be a great encouragement to others (2 Corinthians 7:2-13).
  38. Standing upon the Word of God and remaining faithful even when a loved and respected fellow Christian is persecuted can serve to encourage that Christian (1 Thessalonians 3:2, 7).
  39. When we encourage others to remain steadfast in their Christian walk through life, the results of our encouragement can be more far-reaching than we can imagine, including bringing others to the Lord (Acts 11:22-24).
  40. Now is never the time to give up. We are to encourage each other to remain faithful as we get ever closer to Jesus' return (Hebrews 10:25).
In my quick tour through the Bible, I gleaned at least 40 lessons about encouragement. And I'm sure there are other lessons to be learned from God's Word about encouragement. Of course, lessons aren't well learned until they are put into practice. We all need encouragement--all the time. Sometimes it can be in the form of words, sometimes by actions, sometimes just by being there. But we all need encouragement. God gives it when we do and even when we don't, and that is a very encouraging thought. But the blessed ministry of encouragement is for everyone. Encourage someone today. You should find that you will be encouraged the most when you, yourself, are an encourager!

Copyright © 2004 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.