One thing that God has been reminding me of lately is that Christians need encouragement. In 1 Thess. 5:11 Paul tells the Christians at Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” Apparently the believers there were struggling with their identity. They were concerned that they would be rejected on “the day of the Lord.” Paul reminds the church that they are “children of the light” and that they have been destined for glory because Jesus died for them. Paul was reminding the Thessalonians of who they were, and he was challenging them to go on encouraging one another and building one another up until Christ's return.
Like the Christians at Thessalonica, the believers in your church today need encouragement too. Here are a few reasons why:
- People are forgetful. We can’t go a day without forgetting who we are. We have been created in God’s image and in his likeness. Every person is beautiful and unique. God has given Christians special talents and spiritual gifts that are intended for the building up of His Church. And most of all, Christ has purchased us with His own blood. But people are forgetful, and we need to be reminded of these things. Therefore encourage one another. . .
- The devil is deadly. As you read this, Satan is stalking you and deploying every trick he knows to kill you and destroy your faith (1 Peter 5:8). Don’t fool yourself. Satan is a beast and he wants you dead. When your brothers and sisters in the faith are struggling with discouragement, anxiety, depression, anger, jealousy, and doubt, it’s not because they are just “having a bad day.” These are all traps strategically placed by our enemy! One of the greatest means God has given us to escape the traps of Satan, outside of Scripture memorization and prayer, is mutual encouragement. Therefore encourage one another. . .
- The cross is heavy. Following Jesus isn’t easy. Remember when our Leader said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). What about when Jesus said, “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:33). When you are spotting your friend at the gym, do you just watch silently when he’s trying to max out on bench? No, you encourage! Everyday the Christ followers around you are picking up their cross. Therefore encourage one another. . .
- God is love. If you want someone to experience God, then you must show them love. At the foundational level, one of the most important ways to show love is through encouragement. If you meet a woman who finds it difficult to love her father, you will find a father who gave little encouragement to his child. If you want to help bring your friends into the presence of God, bring them to the place of encouragement. “In His presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). Therefore encourage one another. . .
In response to this you might say, “What if I don’t have the gift of encouragement?” Not all have the gift of teaching, but all are called to teach. Not all have the gift of hospitality, but all are called to be hospitable. Not all have been given the gift of generosity, but all are called to give. God may not have given you the gift of encouragement, but he definitely didn’t give you the gift of discouragement. We have all been called to build one another up in the faith. Therefore, go look another Christian in the eyes, remind them of who God has created them to be, and encourage one another.