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The Power of Encouragement

The power of encouragement, how to encourage others, what is encouragement, encouragement
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“George tried to teach himself the guitar. But he wasn’t making much headway. ‘I’ll never learn this,’ he used to say. I said, ‘You will, son, you will. Just keep at it.’ He kept at it till his fingers were bleeding. Every time he said, ‘I’ll never make it,’ I said, ‘You will, you will.’

“I don’t know why, really, I encouraged him so much. He wanted to do it, so that was enough for me. I suppose at the back of my mind I remembered all the things I wanted to do as a girl, but nobody encouraged me. So when it came to George, I helped all I could.”

The unflagging encouragement of that loving mother Louise motivated her son George to persist in learning the guitar. And Louise – Louise Harrison – should get the credit for encouraging her son, George Harrison, to persist until he succeeded and became a founding member of one of the greatest bands of the 20th century: the Beatles.

Such is the power of encouragement.

You Know You Need It!

We all need encouragement. I’ve met few people in my lifetime who couldn’t use or wouldn’t want a sincere pat on the back and an uplifting word from someone – anyone! – to keep on keeping on. But we all need to give encouragement, too. We have little control over the former; We must wait for someone to encourage us. But we have complete control over the latter; Almost daily we have opportunities to lift up someone else. And ironically, something wonderful happens to us when we encourage others.

Encouragement is the “heavenly blessing with a hidden benefit.” Not only does it lift the recipients but also it allows those who encourage, if only for a moment, to get their minds off themselves and onto others. That’s huge. All of us can benefit from less time mucking about in our own self-absorbed stupor and instead think and then act for the benefit of others. Miraculously, when we lift up others, we find we are lifted up as well.

How to Encourage Others

Maybe that’s why the New Testament writers were so insistent that we intentionally seek to encourage others. Follow the verbs attached to the phrase “one another” in the New Testament and you’ll see encouragement peeking out behind most of them.

“Accept one another” (Romans 15:7). “Be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). “Consider one another more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). “Admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16). “Overflow in love for one another” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). “Comfort one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). The Apostle Paul gets right to the point when he says, “Encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). And the writer to the Hebrews is persistently passionate about it: “Encourage one another …. let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds …. not abandoning our own meeting together … but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24,25).

Why is encouragement a persistent theme in the New Testament? Because the writers knew how much we all need it, how beneficial it is to give it, and how easy it is to overlook it.

The Spiritual Superfood

Encouragement is not just nice, it’s necessary. If you have tried to diet to lose weight at one time or another, you know that any good diet tells you what foods to avoid, what foods work against your healthy goals. But any successful diet also focuses on those foods that we should include – we must include – to be healthy. Physical health is accomplished by a balance of subtraction and addition!

The same is true for spiritual health. Encouragement is one of those “spiritual superfoods” that you simply must include to be holy and healthy. Why? Because it forces us to think of others first, and that makes us more like Jesus when we “do not merely look out for [our] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). And that, friends, is the goal of spiritual growth: to look more and more like our Savior as we mature in the faith. Encouragement can do that for us!

The Son of Encouragement

You know any great encouragers? The Bible talks about a fantastic man whom you may have never heard of, but his encouragement was the glue that held together the new, growing Church in the Bible book of Acts. His given name was Joseph (not Jesus’ step-father), but the early Apostles noticed that whenever “positive Joe” was around, everybody in the vicinity was better for it. And so they renamed Joe…Barnabas, the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). It is one thing to be an encourager, it is quite another to be recognized as such by those around you!

How did Barnabas Become such an Acknowledged Encourager?

He was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). Sometimes I wonder what the New Testament means when it exhorts us to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Every person who has trusted Christ as Savior is indwelled by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthian 6:19-20). But how do we know when we are “filled with the Spirit”?

That filling is a matter of who is in control of me at any given time: my goals and desires or those of the Holy Spirit. According to Barnabas, encouraging others and the filling of the Spirit go arm in arm. When the Holy Spirit is in control, we look outward to others and their needs…even their need for encouragement.

Even Christians, who have everything to look forward to, can be caught up in the pessimism and fatalism of our culture. We are immersed in it; we are drowning in it. Oh! How we need more like Barnabas in this present age! How we need clear-headed, forward-looking, Christ-loving, Spirit-filled believers who see the God-given potential in others and will not rest until they have raised those dear ones to new heights by their persistent words of sincere praise and unswerving confidence. I need people like that in my life, and without a doubt there are others who need my encouragement, too.

The Salt of Sincerity

Sincerity is the key to effective encouragement. If you’ve made it your goal to encourage five people this week, and it’s Friday and you’ve only encouraged two so far, and you are scrambling to find three more to meet your quota, do yourself and others a favor and stop scrambling. When encouragement becomes more about you than others, it isn’t really encouragement anymore. In fact, insincere encouragement becomes a self-serving pat on your own back, the very opposite of what encouragement should be.

I grew up on a farm and we always had garden-grow, sun-ripened tomatoes to eat in summer. By themselves, tomatoes can be pretty bland. But sprinkle just a hint of salt or some other seasoning on them, and blam! They become a delicacy. 

Sincerity is the Salt that Makes Encouragement a Delicacy

Without sincerity, encouragement is pretty bland, even tedious. With sincerity, encouragement takes on a zest that truly blesses others. And others can tell if your encouragement is sincere or not, and so can you, for that matter. Insincerity makes encouragement tissue-thin, easy to see through, and easy to toss and disregard. So check your motives before you encourage someone. Encouragement is about others, remember?

Your Divine Appointment

What do you say we ask the Lord to put one person in our path this week who obviously needs our encouragement? It is so simple to do, and when we are looking for that one person who needs what we can give, that’s a divine appointment waiting to happen. Maybe you can be Louise to that George who needs you this week. Never forget: The ripple effect of encouragement can be profound, even life-changing, for both the person you encourage, and for you.

Perry C. Brown

Perry is on staff with the worldwide radio ministry “Truth For Life with Alistair Begg” (truthforlife.org). He’s taught the Bible for 40 years, and his books are available at the Amazon link below.

Books by Perry C. Brown

© 2023 by Perry C. Brown. Used by permission.

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