By: Bro. Festus Etuwewe
The present situation we find ourselves today calls for alot words of encouragement from all aspects of daily lives. Things are so hard that if one is not careful he will be involved in the system of things happening in our society. The early Christians at a time experience such hardship but with love and encouragement they were able to overcome.
The word of God explain what encouragement is all about. A good word that makes one glad Proverb 12:25. It is gracious words like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24.
We should be aware that everyone appreciate kind and timely words that are spoken into their life when it is needed most. We also need each other in our darkest hour.
This is what Christ demonstrated, there is nowhere in the Bible you see Jesus Christ being discouraged neither He offering discouraging words, consider the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Did Jesus speak encouraging words or discouraging words? Jesus encouraged her spirituality and faith. Another case is the woman who was caught in adultery that the leaders are ready to stone to death according to the Law of Moses.
Jesus again was there to encourage her with this wonderful word neither do l condemn you; go and from now on sin no more. John 8:11. Jesus does not say what is the matter with you “He does not say what is the problem, He received people to himself and healed them. Leaders should take note.
When hardship befall the church in Jerusalem, there was a man who was such an encouragement to the body of Christ that they did not call him by the name given by his parents. They simply called him, “son of encouragement”. We know that name as Barnabas. The name “Barnabas” means son of encouragement. We see in this man many instances of encouragement. In Acts 4 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money to the apostles so that they could take care of the needy Christians in Jerusalem. In Acts 9, we see Barnabas again when Paul becomes a Christian. Paul comes to Christ and tries to join the church in Jerusalem. The church refuses Paul because he was a persecutor of Christians because they did not believe he was a disciple. Who was the person who came to the side of this persecutor of Christians? Barnabas did.
Barnabas brought Paul to the apostles and told them about how Paul had been boldly preaching the name of Jesus.
Then in Acts 15, after Mark had left Paul and Barnabas during their first preaching journey, who wants to have Mark come with them on the second journey? Barnabas does.
We need this kind of encouragement. This is exactly what God has called for us to have towards one another. Our theme this year is to look at the passage that instruct us regarding how we are to behave toward one another as the body of Christ. God calls for us to encourage one another. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV) Again, we need this kind of encouragement.
Think about how many people have the gift of discouragement. How easy it is to be the discourager! When that person talks, it is always something negative to say. Hope and joy is dashed when they open their mouths. Everything is a complaint. Everything is a discouragement and frustration. This kind of “Eeyore” attitude can easily be developed in the church. But this is not what we are supposed to be toward one another. God says that we need to encourage one another and build one another up.
Consider the sinful woman who enters the Pharisees’ house and is weeping over the feet of Jesus. The Pharisee wants this notoriously sinful woman out of his house. What did Jesus say? “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). Jesus does not say, “What is the matter with you?” He does not say, “What is your problem?” He received people to him and healed them.
What I want us to think about is how we need more encouragement in our lives and less of a stick.
How often we can start with a verbal stick with each other rather than verbal encouragement! This does not mean that there is not a place or a need for rebuke. There is a need for rebuke. But this is not the only thing we need. It is not the only tool given to us by God. We need to start with encouragement. In fact, listen to what Paul taught Timothy in his first letter to him.
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1–2 ESV).
Do you see what Paul said? Encourage older men like you would your father. Encourage younger men as your brother. Encourage older women like you would your mother. Encourage younger women like you would your sister. We need encouragement.
In fact, please consider what you respond well to. We need to be the people who come alongside a person and not whip on them but encourage them. I cannot find a passage in the New Testament that tells us to come together and rebuke one another regularly. But we do have passages that tell us to come together and encourage each other regularly. So how can we encourage each other and what should we encourage each other in? Turn to Hebrews 10:22-24.
- Encouraging One Another (Hebrews 10:22-24)
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:19–25 ESV).
We have unfortunately read this text with one main lens: the need to not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. What is ironic about this is that this is a text that is supposed to be an encouragement, not a rebuke! Look at it in verse 24, “But encouraging one another….” There is nothing more encouraging than yelling at people to go to church, right? Thank you for yelling me about attendance. I am very encouraged to come. No, this is not encouraging and many well-meaning people use these verses this way.
Can we look at this text again and try to forget all the sermons you heard in your life that told you that you are sinning for not going to church? Let’s look at this glorious text with fresh eyes.
Notice the things that we need to be encouraged to do when we come together. First, since we have this great priest over the house of God in the person of Jesus, we need to be encouraged to draw near to God in full assurance of faith (10:22). We need to be encouraged in the faith. You will see this is a consistent message in the New Testament.
When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Paul wanted encouragement in the faith from the Christians in Rome and Paul wanted to encourage the faith of the Christians who were in Rome. Friends, Paul desired encouragement. Paul desired to be an encourager. We should see ourselves filling that role for each other, to encourage each other to continue in the faith. This life is hard and living faithfully before God requires hard choices and sacrifices. So we need to encourage each other to make those decisions.
Second, the writer of Hebrews says we need to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering (10:23). We need to grow in hope. We need to encourage each other in the hope we have. In fact, it should be our desire to do that for the church we can encourage each other by reminding each other of the hope we have in Christ. God is faithful to his promises.
Thirdly, we need to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (10:24). “Consider” is an important word because it means that we take thoughtful effort and intention. We are thinking about how we can stir each other up to love and good works. How can I help you grow in love and doing good? How can you help me grow in love and doing good works? What can I do to promote love in the other person? What can I say that will encourage you to do good works, to not grow weary in doing good?
Now the point is not to shout at people for not coming. The point is that we need to be together so that we can do these things for each other. The church is to have an atmosphere that when we come in the doors we are ready to give encouragement in faith, hope, and love to others and are ready to receive the same toward us. We are coming to every meeting considering how we are going to do this for each other. We not here to tear each other down. We are going to be Barnabas in this church, coming alongside every person to give them spiritual strength.
If we look at coming to church as a requirement, a duty, or something that has to be done, we are missing out on the joy what we are doing together. We are together to encourage each other.
How is that encouragement going to happen? We can only come alongside each other by getting together and putting this word of God into each other’s hearts in our Bible studies and worship times. This does not happen through mere social events. We might feel good but our faith is not built, encouraged, or grown in social gatherings. We give each other faith, hope, and love by speaking the scriptures into each other. Stir one another up to love and good works. Encourage each other all the more as we see the day approaching. It is a simple message Paul gives the Thessalonians. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We need each other. We need to think about encouraging each other. This is one of our important goals as we come together as the family in Christ.