I was struck by this thought last night as I was reading Psalm 45, a wedding song. It is a beautiful song but I realized it is more than that, as the encouraging words struck me. What king would not be provoked to greatness by these words:
and your lips have been anointed with grace,
since God has blessed you forever.
clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies;
let the nations fall beneath your feet. (Psalm 45:2-5)
Over the years I have noted the effect words have on people, both good and bad. I am sad to say that some of those bad words were mine. What we speak into a person's life effects their heart and mind and we need to realize that it takes effort to measure our words before speaking them.
If a 5 year old child came to you with their latest drawing you would take the time to praise him for it. You would probably talk about the wonderful colours and ask him to tell you the story behind it. You would see him depart from you with such joy because of the words you spoke into him. Now imagine that same child if you had told him his drawing was babyish and you didn't have time for such garbage. We wouldn't dream of doing such a mean thing to a 5 year old but we do it to our teens, to our spouses, to our friends and to our co-workers.
The ministry of encouragement is such a vital daily ministry that requires effort and love. Some would ask how I could say it would take effort. After all, what's a few words of praise? But encouragement is so much more than praise and it requires a selfless heart. In order to encourage we must know what is going on around us, we must be aware of people and we must be willing to be involved in their lives. Encouragement is more than telling somebody they are doing a good job. It includes words that lift people out of discouragement; words of guidance that help people avoid heartache; a listening ear and an arm around the shoulder in times of darkness; it is a hand of friendship when everyone else has walked away; it is forgiveness in a sea of condemnation; it is also the applause and cheering to push someone to finish the task. Encouragers have to be the most selfless people in the world and selflessness takes effort.
I am one who strongly believes that the end times are upon us. As we see the great delusion that is falling on the hearts and minds of our neighbours, there should be little doubt that the enemy is preparing for the days ahead. Christians will be marginalized more and more. We will be referred to as the delusional ones, having some physiological problem, that we would need fairy tales to cope in this world. They will make us feel dump, stupid, uneducated, a blemish on society. They will blame us for everything that is going wrong in the world. We can't do anything about the approaching storm but we can prepare ourselves and we can become great encouragers for one another. The writer of Hebrews left us this message about these times:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
There are going to be very dark days ahead of us as the enemy fights to discourage us, attacking our faith, hacking away at our hearts and minds. That is where the real battle ground will be as the world turns its anger against our faith. Those who are weak in their faith will fall away if we who are strong are not there to encourage them. We need to grow stronger in our relationship with one another. We need to cease to be a community and become family. We are not neighbours to one another, we are brothers and sisters. The Day is approaching and we need each other to make it through. We need to be singing together, praying together, sharing from the Word to each other, standing with one another. Understand the words of encouragement you speak could make an eternal difference to someone who has yet to build the spiritual muscles you have. Don't kill the children, build them up with words of encouragement. We can't afford to lose anyone, not one person, in the storm that is upon us.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
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