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Proverbs 31:12She will comfort, encourage, and do them only good as long as there is life within her”.

Meaning

  • Building up and affirming, not flattering.
  • Loving in weakness.
  • Spurring one another on towards love and good deeds.

What encouragement is...

  • A strong arm – “I'm here, if and when you need me”. (Galatians 6:2)
  • A loud cheer – “I'm so proud of you! I knew you could do it”. (1 Peter 2:12)
  • A warm hand – “Take my hand and we will travel this road together”. (Mark 1:41)
  • A gentle prod – “Oh c'mon you can do it!” (Hebrews 10:24)
  • An understanding smile - understanding from the heart and not in condemnation.
  • A loving embrace – “I love you and accept you. I support you and believe in you.” (1 John 4:7)
  • A silence - Know when to keep our mouths shut. Silence listens. (Proverbs 29:20)
  • A soft voice - Always be aware of the power of your words. (Proverbs 18:21; 31:26)

What encouragement is not...

  • Exploitation or manipulation. (Job 15:2-6)
  • Discouragement. (Ephesians 3:13)
  • Artificial or forced affections. (Matthew 19:18; 2 Peter 2:3)
  • Building a wall. (Luke 18:9)
  • Flattery. “A flattering mouth works ruin.” (Proverbs 26:28; Acts 12:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:5,6)

Our heart's conditionWhen to give encouragement

  • When we really care. (2 Corinthians 1:4; Colossians 2:2)
  • When we know our own motives are right. (2 Corinthians 7:1-4)
  • Firstly, to all at home. (Hebrews 3:13)
  • When a person is frightened, weak, sick, going through problems or recovering from them. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
  • When a person has got into sin. (Titus 2:15; Proverbs 28:23)
  • When the Holy Spirit brings the person to mind. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
  • When willingly staying at someone's side, even without any response. (2 Timothy 4:2)
  • We have a responsibility to obey God's word. (1 Thessalonians 4:18; Hebrews 10:25)
  • Everywhere we go, we have the light of life. (Galatians 6:10)
  • Always to our pastor or church leader. (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13)

How to communicate encouragement

  • Listen to the tone of your voice.
  • Watch the facial expression.
  • Ask specifically what is wrong.
  • Repeat aloud what you think you heard.
  • Most importantly, really care.

How we give encouragement

  • Be specific. Comment on what part of their personality you appreciate most. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Be positive. Say how a peroson has grown and matured as a Christian. (1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1-4)
  • Notice when they perform an unselfish act.
  • Ask: "Lord where does [this person] need encouragement today?" (Revelation 14:12)
  • Through prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:20,21)
  • Through testimony. (1 Peter 5:12; Ephesians 6:22; Romans 1:12; Philippians 1:14)
  • Through God's word. (Romans 15:4)
  • Through a visit. (2 Timothy 1:16)
  • By being consistent. (Colossians 4:6)
  • Responding in obedience to the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 13:8-10; Proverbs 3:27)
  • Writing a letter. For example, consider writing to someone in prison. (Acts 18:27)
  • Sending someone a card just to say you were thinking of that person.
  • Not worrying about how we are received. (Proverbs 3:27)

Anyone can embed themselves in the concrete of defeat, failure and bitterness, which is then almost impossible to crack. We need to have a real sense of urgency in our churches today, to stop the loss of precious members dying spiritually from lack of support. We have to make a quality decision to encourage each other, so that our brothers and sisters do not drift away from fellowship and from their Father. We need to be totally committed to other peoples' well-being in body, soul and spirit, whatever the cost. When we do revive their interest and their self-worth, a new found confidence is born in them. A desire will then be released in them, to fulfil their destiny as God has planned, so that they can move on and encourage others.

Humility and joyHow we encourage ourselves

  • By fixing our eyes on Christ's victory during painful times. This will always encourage us.
  • By counting our blessings.
  • By making sure that we are the right company for others (and they for us).
  • By looking beyond our problems to eternity. (1 Thessalonians 4:18; Hebrews 10:25)
  • By looking at the bigger picture. (Proverbs 29:18)
  • By doing something worthwhile. Activity is the best therapy.
  • By taking time to recover. Allow ten minutes to cry, then get busy helping.
  • By asking the Holy Spirit to excite us with a Bible verse, such as Psalm 34:18 or Psalm 37:6.
  • By being honest with God. (Psalm 139:1-24)
  • By letting go of our own control and letting God have His way. (Proverbs 16:3)
  • By not comparing ourselves to others. Our responses to similar situations may be entirely different.
  • By changing our habitual ways of thinking. (Philippians 2:1-5)

As encouragers we will give, forgive and forget. We will release our own will to obey God to the maximum, washing dirty feet with an attitude of gentleness and humility. After all these beautiful thoughts, we will get ripped off occasionally! I want all of us to enter into this ministry of servanthood with our eyes wide open. If we serve others long enough, we will suffer wrong treatment for doing right things. (Matthew 5:11-12) Knowing all this ahead of time will help us to be more determined to improve our servant heart by fixing our eyes on the perfect servant, Jesus.

Remember, everyone can make it with God's help. God's help may come through someone else's arms to hold you; someone else's tears mixed with your tears or someone else’s faith to keep on believing in you. You will make it, and then be able to help others. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)


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