A friend of mine gave me a gift for my birthday that just keeps on giving. Today I read a verse from over the weekend on my flip calendar: “Kind words are jewels that live in the heart and soul and remain as blessed memories years after they have been spoken”-Marvea Johnson
If kind words are jewels that live in the heart as blessed memories, I believe the alternative is also true: ugly (especially purposely so) words live on in painful memories. So the question before us is do we want to speak life to others (which shows our love), or do we want to speak death? Speaking life to one another is a way to encourage each other: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13)
Throughout the Bible we see instructions to encourage one another and verses that are meant to encourage us. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thess 5:11) Why is encouragement emphasized in the Bible? Primarily because encouragement is necessary to our walk of faith.
Jesus did not shy from telling His followers about the troubles they would face. In fact, He told them the world would hate them (John 15:18-21). But Jesus’ grim forecast was tempered with cheer; He followed His prediction of trouble with a sparkling word of encouragement: He has overcome the world (John 16:33)! Jesus is greater than any trouble we face.
Without encouragement, hardship becomes meaningless, and our will to go on wanes. The prophet Elijah struggled with discouragement (1 Kings 19:3-10), and so do we. It’s important to remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). This truth makes encouragement all the more important. It is not just that we face the world’s displeasure; we are caught in the crosshairs of a spiritual battle. When we are encouraged in Christ, we have strength to put on our spiritual armor and remain steadfast (Eph 6:10-18).
Encouragement makes it easier to live in a fallen world in a holy way. Encouragement makes it easier to love as Jesus loved. Encouragement gives hope (Rom 15:4). Encouragement helps us through times of discipline and testing (Heb 12:5). Encouragement nurtures patience and kindness (1 Cor 13:4-7 and Gal 5:22-26). Encouragement makes it easier to sacrifice our own desires for the advancement of God’s kingdom. In short, encouragement makes it easier to live the Christian life.
Encouragement from the Bible gives us the will to carry on. It is a glimpse of the bigger picture. It can prevent burn-out. It can save us from believing lies (“sin’s deceitfulness”). Encouragement helps us experience abundant life (John 10:10). God’s Word is full of encouragement. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Prov 16:24) Can you think of anyone who could use sweetness to their soul today?