And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (MSG)
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When I was younger, there was a Christian group called Prism. All their albums were named after colors. On their “Yellow” album, the had a song called “We Will Always Be With The Lord”. They created the lyrics for that song out of I Thessalonians 4:18. Paul had just described what happens to the dead in Christ and what will happen to believers who are alive when He returns. The Church was under severe persecution when he wrote this letter to them and he wanted to encourage them in their struggle. While most of the Church today isn’t being persecuted for their faith, it’s still a good practice to encourage each other.
It was just a few verses later in I Thessalonians 5:11 that Paul again reminded the believers to encourage each other. He wrote, “So encourage each other and build each other up. (NLT)” He knew that each one of us have a deep internal need to be encouraged. It’s our responsibility to encourage each other as believers and to not tear each other down. If another believer needs encouragement, they should be able to find it within the Church. They shouldn’t have to go looking elsewhere.
A few months back, our small group used one of our Wednesday nights to enact something I learned from Brian Tracy’s “New Psychology of Selling”. It’s called the “20 Idea Method”. You take any problem you have, convert it into a question and come up with 20 ideas as to how you can answer it. This method ignites the creative side of your brain and gives you new ways to do the things you’ve always done. Most people never implement new ideas and therefore get the same results their whole life. You can’t expect growth or progress doing what you’ve always done.
We asked the question, “What are 20 ways we can encourage others?” The first few answers came easily, but as we got closer to 20, we struggled. We pushed ourselves to keep going until we did. Many people in the group wrote them down or took a picture of the white board we used. Coming up with ideas is great, but the real power is in implementation. When we began to put into practice these simple ideas of encouraging others, it changed us as well. When you encourage someone else, it turns out you get encouraged as well. It’s mutually beneficial. I think that’s why Paul was so clear in his desire for believers to encourage each other.
If you need encouragement today, try finding someone who is having a more difficult time than you and offer them encouragement. If you are riding an emotional high today, spread the wealth and give out encouragement like you’ll explode if you don’t. There isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t love being encouraged. Each one of us have the need to hear, “You’re going to make it through this and I’ll help make sure of that.” Don’t just look at someone who is struggling and say, “Take courage! It’ll all work out.” Go over to them and offer tangible help. Pray for them. Give them a verse that has helped you. Offer to carry their load. Be a person who listens instead of gives advice. Buy their lunch. Words often fall flat, but actions build up.
I’d love it if you wrote in the comments one way you could encourage someone today. It will give others different ideas on how they can encourage someone who needs it.