All through Scripture the Holy Spirit instructs the church to be encouraging. (Colossians 2:2, 4:8; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Make no mistake, this is no superficial “hello” offered in passing to another in the fellowship hall. No, this is a thoughtful word that spurs another “on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) The Greek word as it is used in our text, means to come along side and give help. William Barclay says that it refers to speeches of leaders to rally their troops and by captains to strengthen fearful sailors going into battle. An encourager therefore, is one who puts “courage into the fainthearted, who nerves the feeble arm for the fight, and who makes ordinary people cope gallantly” with a difficult and hard situation.
Isn’t that a wonderful picture? How refreshing it is to be truly encouraged and enabled to “cope gallantly” with life’s stresses and strains.
Someone may say, “I can’t encourage another, it’s not part of who I am.” But verses 19 through 22 clearly tell us that encouragement is a natural part of who we are as Christians. In fact, the text tells us that it is a normal response to what God has done for us in Christ. Think of it, you have full access to God – you have a great priest who loves you and is for you. You no longer have to stand outside the Holy of Holies and imagine what living with God would be like. No, you have full access to the creator of the universe who loves you, who died for you and who lives for you!
And what is your response to this amazing truth? Should you go around with your face downcast and your attitude sour, always tearing people down, always negative, and always criticizing? No! We have the best truth the world has ever heard. We should be filled with awe and joy that God is for us and not against us. Therefore, let us be a people who encourage one another.
Do you know encouragers? I can tell you that the best and most consistent encouragers are people who are sure of who Christ is and what he has done for them. They are filled with the very Spirit of Christ and are confident of his love. Out of that confidence they are able to encourage others.
There’s a man in the book of Acts called Barnabas. That wasn’t his real name. His real name was Joseph. Barnabas was a nick-name that the disciples gave to him and it means – son of encouragement (Acts 4:36-37). A little later in Acts we read a description of Barnabas as being “full of the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24). Of course he was an encourager! He was full of the Holy Spirit and faith. To give encouragement is a natural response to the life of Christ in you. It flows out of an experience of God and his presence in your life.
If you find that you aren’t as encouraging as you like perhaps you need to look at your relationship with Jesus Christ. Go to the cross and see again how you have a great priest who has made access to God possible for you. Through the shedding of his blood he has opened the way for you to draw near to God with a sincere heart and full assurance that you will not be rejected. Take all of that into your heart and mind and you will be an encourager.
With thanksgiving for you,