Sooner or later, all of us will walk the path of sorrow and loss. J. I. Packer describes grief as “the inward desolation that follows the losing of something or someone we loved – a child, a relative, an actual or anticipated life partner, a pet, a job, one’s home,...
Encouragement is a potent tool the Lord has given to His people to care, love, and serve one another and others all around them.
It was a tough day. I had dealt with some very challenging situations as a substitute teacher, and went to sit with one of my pastors, who is also one of my very closest friends.
I remember feeling so frustrated, upset, and ready to throw in the towel. And I will never forget that he sat there and listened attentively. When I was done, he came around from his side of his desk to my side and asked if I would stand up and then proceeded to hug me. Then after the hug, we sat down in our chairs across from each other, and he clasped my hand, and he prayed for me.
That day I left his office and headed home a lot lighter than when I walked in. When I walked into his office, I felt like the whole world was going to cave in on me, but when I left, I felt loved by God and by my pastor.
Encouragement for the Christian
Encouragement for the Christian is like the heavyweight boxer going into the ring. Satan is about to land the knockout punch, and then—bam!—before that big-time moneymaker reigns down its terror in comes the counter-punch. Encouragement is the counterpunch to Satan’s lies.
The devil comes in to steal, devour, and to kill, whispering his evil wiles and saying to the Christian: “Yeah, you’re not good enough. You are rotten. You are a loser. Just give up. Lay down that sword of God—the Word. It doesn’t matter at all.”
Many times we are so in need of encouragement, and we don’t even know we need it. And the truth is all around you are people who need your encouragement. They are facing what they feel is that heavyweight prize boxers blow about to land on them and they just sitting there waiting for it.
I have known many Christians who are like this. They want love and care. I have friends in ministry who are desperate for encouragement. And how do I know? I ask, and they tell me. Most of my friends are either in some form of writing/editing ministry or vocational pastoral ministry. And yet we haven’t even gotten to the person in the pew right next to you Sunday in and Sunday out who also needs encouragement.
Encouragement Vs. Sin
As Christians, we aren’t left without encouragement. We have the grace of God. Jesus also has promised to be with us (Hebrews 13:5), and summons us before the throne of the grace of God (Hebrews 4:16) to receive His help.
See all of this is why Hebrews 3:13 is so powerful. This verse says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
What Hebrews 3:13 is telling us that today is vital. Today is the day to encourage one another. Perhaps that is right now even. Why? Hebrews 3:13 tells us why: “that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Sin will take you further than you want but will do so seductively. Sin comes prancing around the ring saying, “Oh just sin a little here” and then—wham!—it comes with that full right cross and then the left jab, and then it goes for the money maker—the knock-out blow.
Today, you may be facing what feels like the knockout blow, and you don’t know where to turn, dear Christian. And I want to say this to you—you do not need to be knocked out. You do not need to go out of commission. You do not need to hit the mat; you need to hit the Bible. You need to get in a local church, and you need to get involved in the life of the local church.
An Encouragement for You
Many Christians want to know if they can be used by God but believe that they can’t, which isn’t true. You today, dear Christian can be used by God.
All around you are people facing challenging situations and people. See, I need you, and you need me. Together we need one another in our local churches. Sometimes well, that is going to mean I need hard loving words spoken in love. Other times it’s going to mean I need you to tell me soft words spoken gently. Sometimes that is going to mean like my former pastor and good friend I am going to need an arm around the shoulder, a hug, and a prayer after listening to me talk. So, I don’t know where you are at or what’s going on in your life or if you feel like today you are about to face that seeming knockout punch but understand the following.
Satan may be primed, locked, and loaded to unload on you and land the knockout punch but that punch can never fully take you out, Christian. The death of Jesus forever satisfied the wrath of God in the place of sinners and for their sin. Now through Him, Christians are friends of God. All of this is why Christians can care, love, and encourage one another because of the grace of God.
If you want to be used by God, and my guess is yes, you do, dear Christian, then take time today to encourage someone in your home and local church. Church member, get to know fellow church members so you can pray for one another, so you know how to encourage one another specifically.
When you do encourage another church member, do so because you see the grace of God at work in their lives and want to encourage them to press on in Christ.
The next time you think, “The Lord can’t use me,” remember He can. He has done all He has done for you and me in His finished and sufficient so we can encourage and spur one another to love and good deeds.
Let’s you and I as Christians have Hebrews 3:13 be our aim whether in our local churches or outside of it as the Body of Christ. Let’s encourage one another today lavishly with the grace of Jesus so we can bear each other’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) both in our local churches and outside of it in our vocations and communities.