Encouraging in a Distinctively Christian Way

Encouraging in a Distinctively Christian Way

If we are a Christian trying to comfort and encourage a grieving brother or sister in Christ, we can say so much more than this. We can speak of the comfort we have in Jesus. We can speak of our future hope with no more crying or mourning or pain. In other words, we can point people to Jesus, not just express empathy to them.

What do you think it means to encourage someone? My immediate thought was that it meant to say something nice to someone. Perhaps that would be compliment their clothes or thank them for something. Perhaps it would be cheering on a child in a sporting match. While those are indeed good things to do, Christian encouragement is different to and deeper than this. If we know Jesus and what He has done for us, we have so much more content with which to encourage others.

Near the end of 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes this:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

(1 Thess. 5:11 ESV)

Our immediate reaction is to think he only means to be nice to one another, but Paul is saying far more than this. V11 starts with the word “therefore” which means he is continuing on from what he was writing about earlier. Paul had just been writing about the certain hope for the future that Christians have because of the work of Jesus. This means that v11 is telling the Thessalonian Christians that their certain future is a source of encouragement; when things are difficult, they can encourage one another by reminding themselves of the truth of the gospel.

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