Declare to others the truth of who they are. We all struggle with our identity. We are tempted to vacillate between self-righteousness when we are doing well and despair when we are missing it. The secular world often seeks to affirm our identity by telling us how great and worthy we are. But this is hopelessly empty. Our identity is more than our greatness. Our identity is rooted in who God has been and will be to us. We need to declare to one another who we really are: “To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ”. (Jude 1–2).
Would you take more encouragement if you could get it? Have you ever felt like you had no more need of encouragement? What would be possible in your life if you lived with a continual diet of encouragement from others? These questions help reveal something we all intuitively know: We need encouragement. The Bible presents encouragement as needed fuel for the Christian life. Without encouragement we will be lacking in love and faithfulness, fall into sin, become hardened, be deceived, live in unbelief, and miss the closeness of God (Heb 3:12-13; 10:25). It is vital.
If you have this need, so do those around you. Your marriage, family, and church all need encouragement. In the middle of struggle, sin, and suffering, we can bring the hope-filled voice of encouragement. In the mire of apathy, fear, and discouragement we can light the fire with the matches of encouragement. It is a great tool to serve others. A great gift we can give.
But, we need to learn how. How do we learn to use this great tool? How do we move beyond Christian platitudes that feel shallow? How do we give more than simple, secular affirmations (like the all too common “you got this!”)? The best way to learn how to encourage is to watch others do it. The Bible models this for us in a variety of ways. Let’s look at the examples and learn how we can we use this powerful tool.
Biblical Methods of Encouragment
1. Tell Others How God is Working Through Them
Paul tells the Thessalonians that, “…you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For the word of the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out.” (1 Thessalonians 1:7–8). Often we are blind to the good things God is doing through us. It may be because we always feel there is more to do, we see the imperfect nature of what we’ve done or simply because people don’t take the time to notice and appreciate. But God is working through us. When we see this we are led to thankfulness for the joy of participating with God and want to endure. Show people how God is using them.
2. Show Others How God is Working in Their Life
“…the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end..” (1 Corinthians 1:4–9). God is always working for the good of those who love him. Yes, life is hard but too often this is our only focus; the negatives, pain, and brokenness are hyper-real. But there is more to the story. Show people the evidence that God is active, present, and involved in their life. Show people that God is doing good.