Encouragement is a word we often hear, but is it something we really understand? I used to think so, but not so much anymore. A few weeks ago, I found myself discouraged and feeling empty; at the same time I was in the process of prepping for our monthly Titus24U meetings. I prayed and asked God for direction and as usual He provided just what I needed.
He set me on a journey to better understand encouragement. I scribbled down some questions - "What is it? How am I encouraged? How do I encourage others? Who or what encourages me? How does God define encouragement? What is the purpose of encouragement?"
My study led to answers and a deeper understanding of what is a gift for some (Romans 12:8) and a command to all (1 Thes. 5:11). Encouragement is more than a pat on the back or words that cheer somebody up. In Greek the word for encouragement is parakaleo - meaning to call to one's side, to admonish, to comfort and instruct. The same word can be used for the Holy Spirit - the ultimate encourager!! The One who doesn't just tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to know!!
Another great discovery came as I looked at the life of Barnabas, the one who was called "Son of Encouragement". In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were told, "If you have a message of encouragement, please share it..." Paul went on to share the Gospel...friends, if you or I are in need of encouragement may we always remember to go back to the cross. God's love, plan and power are sure to speak to our hearts, lift our spirits and shift our focus!
Finally, as time slips away...may I challenge you to encourage the one who encourages you!! I've often been told I have the gift of encouragement and every spiritual gift test I've ever taken confirms that, but I'll be honest I don't often use that gift when I'm talking to myself. And I'd like to think I'm not alone, so perhaps the one with the gift in your life would appreciate you sharing a little encouragement with her as well.
Friends, I pray you are encouraged today! If you're in need of encouragement ask God for it and He will provide!!
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11