In yesterday’s post, we were encouraged to continually grow in love for God and for others. It’s important to pray regularly, and it is also important to reach out to needy people. Our possessions, status, and power will mean nothing in God’s kingdom, but we will spend eternity with other people. We need to invest our time and talents where they will make an eternal difference. Today I came across this commentary from Dr. Harold Sala, and I wanted to share it with you to emphasize the point. Loving each other and encouraging each is what Jesus Christ taught us to do. Enjoy and be encouraged!-Sheri

“The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.” (Acts 28:15)

“We are living in a day,” wrote the Anglican Bishop Arthur John Dain, “when the Lord’s people need encouragement–in the world, in the church, and in our own lives. Discouragement is one of the weapons the enemy uses to blunt our effectiveness in Christian service and to hinder our progress in our Christian discipleship.” Dain is right! We are living in a day when there is not a great deal happening in the world to make the future look bright. Optimism is out, however, and pessimism is in. How much greater is the need for encouragement today!

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Let me share with you three guidelines to learn how to cultivate the habit of encouragement.

Guideline #1: Be sure that you have a source of strength great enough to share with someone else. It is right here that most of us fail. How can we encourage someone else when we need somebody to encourage us? I suggest that we need to get our hearts right. Find God as your total source of encouragement. You must be certain that it is better to lose in a cause that will ultimately triumph than to triumph in a cause that will ultimately fail. To be an encouragement to another person, you must believe in the ultimate outcome of what you are laboring to achieve.

Guideline #2: If you desire to be an encourager, then try to see the best in people. Thank God for the largeness of heart that sees beyond skepticism and doubt and looks for genuineness and sincerity. When I think of this attribute, I think of a man who lived in the first century. In his day he was known as Barnabas, Son of Consolation–or the Son of Encouragement. When Saul, the bigoted persecutor of the faith, was converted, most men were skeptical. He was known to be a murderer and a rascal. Who would believe his conversion was genuine? Barnabas was so convinced that he sought out the former enemy of the faith, and brought him to the church at Jerusalem.

The reaction to Saul’s conversion was not unlike the modern-day reaction to the conversion of a man whose name was prominently linked with the “Watergate Affair.” Chuck Colson was a man who reportedly would walk over his own grandmother for the cause of a political party. Who would believe that he really could mean business about Jesus Christ? In his book, Born Again, Chuck Colson tells of a similar experience shortly after he met Christ. It was a face-to-face encounter with Harold Hughes, a man considered to be one of his most bitter enemies. When Colson described his conversion Hughes threw his arms around him and said, “Chuck, what you have said is good enough for me. I believe you!” He accepted him fully as a brother. Two men who had been political enemies were united by a common faith. In the turbulent days and months that followed, Senator Harold Hughes was a tremendous help to the struggling, Christian novice. What a genuine example of seeing the best in others!

Guideline #3: To cultivate the habit of encouragement, Get your eyes off your own problems and reach out to someone in need. This is, perhaps, the most important of all. Encouragement is not something that you practice. It is something that you are. Even though you are not an encouragement now, you can be. Cultivate the habit! It may be so important to someone you come in contact with today. Go to the Word and let God be your encourager, then reach out to someone and pass that encouragement on. In doing this, you will encourage each other.