“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thess 5:11, NIV)
In order for us to grow in our faith, we must have love and encourage others. Within the church, there are opportunities for believers to show love and support for each other. One of the reasons for fellowship together in the church is to encourage and build one another up. A word of encouragement offered at the right time can make the difference between finishing well and collapsing along the way.
Christians are to encourage one another. We all know this in theory, but we may fall short in practice. It takes time, energy, patience, and genuine concern to be sensitive of our brethren’s spiritual needs, strengths, and weaknesses. We may also feel awkward or lack wisdom in providing proper encouragement and comfort at the right time. How do we do it?
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thess 5:12-14)
The Bible encourages us to motivate each other to love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. In the above verses, Paul gives some specific examples on how we can encourage others. To build each other up, we can point out to a fellow believer a particular quality that we appreciate in him or her. It doesn’t mean that we are to flatter one another. Flattery is insincere praise to gain advantages from others, while encouragement is to build others up. To give honor to church workers, we can look for ways to cooperate with them and withhold any critical comments we may have about those in positions of responsibility. To comfort the fainthearted and uphold the weak, we can remind them of God’s love and promises, share testimonies with them about how God has helped us in our weaknesses, and pray with them.
A brother who was once afflicted with cancer shared how he was greatly comforted and encouraged by a sister before his hospitalization for cancer operation. The sister simply told him, “Do not be afraid, for God is with you.” She then shared with him her own experience of fighting cancer. Her words of encouragement were timely, simple, and powerful. God wants to use each of us as vessels of encouragement for one another. Let us strive to continue encouraging one another as we have been doing.