© 2022 Chip Kawalsingh / Harvest City Church

I recently read an article on encouragement by Ray Ortlund and it got me thinking, do we encourage each other enough?

‘I have never met anyone suffering from too much encouragement in Christ.’ — Ray Ortlund

Encouragement is something we can all give, but it seems to be one of the missing gifts in the church. Our pastors and leaders encourage us, but do we encourage each other? Of course, many of us already do, but some need to try giving it and not just seeking it!

It doesn’t take much to say to someone ‘It’s great seeing you today!’, or ‘I’m praying for you’, or ‘Thank you for all you do’ and we all feel loved and lifted when someone speaks these words over us. The New Year is upon us, so on top of your own resolutions, why not add being an encourager!

He has brought me to his banqueting place, And his banner over me is love [waving overhead to protect and comfort me]. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

What an amazing picture of God’s loving grace over each of us! It’s such a comfort and encouragement to be picked by God and set in a place of honour.

If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (Romans 12:8)

I guess the easy way out is to say ‘encouragement is not my gift’. Well, it should be! Maybe you need to seek it. Everyone should desire that God makes them an encourager. After all, everything we do, we do to the Lord (Colossians 3:23). When we encourage someone we pick them up. It’s like grabbing hold of someone who’s sinking and dragging them out of a ditch. We all know what it’s like to feel discouraged, and boy do we not like it!

Imagine that you have two friends and you plan to hang out with one of them for a whole day. One is a burden, discouraging and constantly negative. The other person is a joy, always encouraging and positive. Who would you choose to spend the day with? Well, for me it’s easy: the encouraging one all day long! I want to be uplifted and filled with joy.

The Bible encourages us to ‘say the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15). In other words, with the right spirit and the right heart it’s possible to tell someone the truth about a character flaw without being negative. You just have to learn the art of how to say things in a helpful and encouraging way. Encouraging someone builds up their confidence. So let me encourage you: this New Year put encouragement on top of your ‘to be’ list.

Practical ways to encourage others:

  • Speak God’s words over them. Not only in your own prayer times but let them hear it! Scripture tells us that gossip destroys friends but good words build up friendships. Find something good to say.
  • Remember their special days. Birthdays and anniversaries are always good, but people also deal with loss in their lives and have hard days they remember. A short note on those days just to say ‘thinking of you’ can mean the world to them.
  • Prefer one another (Romans 12:10). Preferring others is the biblical thing to do. Maybe give someone something you’d like to receive yourself. It’s what Christ did for us: He took our place and died on the cross.
  • Listen to them. There’s a lot of healing that happens when someone can pour their heart out to a friend. Be that person! You don’t always need to have an answer, just hear them out. Don’t use people as your rubbish dump. Instead, take a genuine interest in them and ask ‘how are you?’
  • Pray for them. Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes things. Prayer moves mountains. I’m sure you agree that prayer makes the difference. The more we pray for someone, the more our attitude towards them changes. Jesus encourages us to ‘bless them that curse you’. Why? Because you’re healing and changing by praying for them. It’s the greatest act of kindness we can do for someone.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Make being an encouragement to others your goal for the New Year. You will be happier, more fulfilled and you will find it much more meaningful. It’s all about taking the lead in love.