Thursday, July 21, 2011

Encouragement....the best investment we can make

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.-1 Thessalonians 5:11

Who have you invested in today?  Who have you encouraged?  Who do you appreciate and when was the last time you told them that?

Encouraging one another is an investment.  When you give encouragement to another person, you are investing in them.  You are building them up, and strengthening them.  Sometimes encouragement can even show a person that you love them or value them.  Encouragement can help offset all the negatives that can be thrown at a person, essentially helping them to "stay in the black" and not allow a deficit to grow in their spirit.  Encouragement can help someone persevere one more day, hold on just a little tighter or keep their hope just a little longer.

Because of all these things, encouraging one another is also an investment in the kingdom of God.  Anyone who is making an impact for the kingdom of God is going to be under attack from Satan.  We can help fortify someone in this battle by offering encouragement at every turn and building them up as a solid mighty fortress for our Lord.  Encouragement can keep a heart softened.  Encouragement can help grow a faith.  Encouragement can be the tool the Holy Spirit uses to comfort us and give us wisdom and direction.  Encouraging someone who is being used by the Lord can keep God's power flowing freely through them.

Why is it then that some of us are so stingy with our encouragement when it can be such a powerful investment?

First of all, we can discount its importance.  We tell ourselves that people shouldn't need encouragement.  We tell ourselves that it doesn't matter to the person what we think.  Either they won't care about our opinion or we tell ourselves that they have so much confidence that it won't matter what we say.  These are all false.  Everyone needs to be encouraged.  In fact, after scripture, God's favorite way of communicating and comforting His Children is through other people.  By delivering your words of encouragement, you may very well be being used by God to strengthen a fellow believer.  As each individual is strengthened, the whole kingdom of God is strengthened.  And strengthening the kingdom of God is critically important.

Another reason we are stingy with encouragement is that we are too self-focused.  Our eyes are so focused on what we do and our own issues, that we fail to recognize the contributions or the needs of those around us.  If we allow our personal needs and issues consume our life, we will miss out on the opportunities God has for us to be used by Him, whether that is encouragement or service or whatever.

Next, we may not know what to say.  Some people really struggle with finding the right words to say to another person.  They appreciate the person or feel for them in their heart, but somehow when it goes through the mouth, there is some sort of disconnect.  Either it doesn't sound genuine or somehow they communicate criticism instead of encouragement.  They would rather not say anything at all than have it taken the wrong way.  The best thing to do is be as specific as possible (specific encouragement to a specific person) and practice, practice, practice.  And above all, be honest.  Open your heart and share.  Which leads to the last reason....

Lastly, people may not encourage one another because it makes them vulnerable.  Opening up to someone and encouraging them, either to keep doing a good job or to persevere through a rough trial, causes us to be vulnerable.  Any time we open up to another person, we feel vulnerable.  What if they reject my encouragement?  What if they think I'm stupid for encouraging them?  What if they don't want me involved?  What if I'm encouraging them too much?  The truth is, most of us are dying inside about something.  There is something that we are about to give up on or that we are insecure about.  We all know how it feels to want encouragement, but not get it.  And you never know when that encouragement can change the entire course of a life.

I believe, with as much emphasis as God puts on the Church and with as relational as He has made us to be, that it is actually a SIN not to encourage one another.  So, I'm going to encourage my blog the next 3 hours, pick five people and encourage them about five different things.  It could be to tell them they're doing a great job in some ministry.  It could be telling them to persevere with their child who is going through a "stage".  It could be encouraging them to keep fighting whatever battle they have raging.  Whatever it is, pick  five people and encourage them on five things.  The time you take doing this will pay huge dividends in the kingdom of God.  Quit sinning and encourage one another!!!

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