Rewind. Pause. Push Play. Aaron says, “Encourage everyone; it’s a command.”
February 24, 2011
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thes. 5:11
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Prov. 17:22
“One word or a pleasing smile is often enough to raise up a saddened and wounded soul.” – Therese of Lisieux
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph. 4:29
Encourage everyone every day…
Over the last few weeks we’ve been exploring love. We’ve been given pictures of love through stories, we’ve examined the different types of love used in the bible and what they each mean, and we’ve talked about how loving people and having a spirit of generosity go hand-in-hand, but how do we go about loving others all the time, especially when their needs may not be so obvious? Last night, Aaron said the answer is pretty simple: encourage everyone every day.
As followers of Christ, we are called to build each other up, to inspire others, and encourage those around us. What Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 is not a suggestion or even a strong recommendation; it’s a command. We are to constantly encourage. Just like everyone has an IQ – intelligence quotient – Aaron believes that we all also have an EQ – an encouragement quotient – that constantly needs to be refilled one way or another. Of course, when you’re in need of encouragement, the first place to turn is the Bible, God’s love letter to you, but there’s no reason why we can’t all be seeking to help meet each other’s encouragement quotas at the same time.
While the idea of encouraging everyone every day may seem simple, making it happen is a little more difficult; encouragement is truly an art form – it’s a skill, just like playing an instrument, that you have to practice in order to perfect. That being said, Aaron laid out three action steps for each of us to partake in last night during the worship service, each of which was meant to show us how easy, necessary, and rewarding it can be to build some one up.
- Take a moment and think about the last time someone encouraged you… Now think about the last time you encouraged someone else…
Maybe you were able to think of both of those moments very quickly, but maybe not. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve felt encouraged, and maybe it’s been even longer since you took the time to encourage someone else. No matter how long it took you to remember, and no matter how long ago the encouragement exchanges actually happened, keep in mind that Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” In other words, Hebrews tells us that we need to encourage people now, right now, because tomorrow may not actually get here. Don’t let the moment pass you by; if someone is in need of a pick me up, or you notice that someone is doing a great job, tell them! Don’t wait for a “better” time; just like John Mayer says (over and over and over again), “Say whatcha need to say.” Go give someone a hug and say, “much love!”
- Start going out of your way to encourage people; make it a priority. Have you encouraged someone today? Maybe you should…
We are all so quick to criticize. No, really, we are. Next time you’re walking down the street, try to listen to your internal monologue; you may be surprised by what you hear. Not only are we quick to judge in our heads, but we’re often too quick to speak those words of condemnation or disapproval aloud. As kids, we were all taught that cute little nursery rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That, my friends, is a lie. Words do have an effect: they can either be medicine or poison. Therefore, be careful of what you say, even when you’re trying to be encouraging. Try not to tell someone that they’re the most Christ-like person you’ve ever met, or that no one else is as smart as them – that’s called evaluation, and all it does is put unnecessary pressure on the person you’re trying to encourage. Instead, focus on appreciating their efforts; say that they are a hard worker, or that they have really been putting their God-given talents to good use. No one wants to be judged, not even if it’s affirming. Take the time to leave an encouraging note for a family member, roommate, or friend.
- Establish relationships with people. Form a community that seeks to encourage everyone. Through that connection, you will pull closer to Christ.
In other words, there is a purpose behind constantly encouraging others. Paul says that his purpose for writing to encourage Christians in Colosse was “that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ” (Col. 2:2). By taking the time to encourage one another (to love one another), you form connections to people, and those connections tether you all to Christ, from whom all love originates. Start making encouraging connections!
Encourage everyone every day.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1-3, 7
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 4-5
Push Play: Before you can love someone else, you have to learn to love yourself. That’s a phrase that we’ve all heard a million times from friends, family members, mentors, teachers, etc. What they mean is that you have to learn to accept and be happy with who you are before you can fully accept and be happy with someone else. However, just like the “Sticks and Stones” mantra is a lie, so too is this beloved word of “wisdom.” It should really be: before you can love someone else, even before you can love yourself, you have to first love God. God loves you more than you could ever imagine, and until you start to understand that, love is always going to seem like a foreign concept – something that is just out of your reach. The thing is, loving God isn’t a stationary or a solitary thing. Loving God is a lifestyle, because when you believe in Him, and you accept Jesus as your savior, everything changes, including the way you live. Including the way you go about loving other people. Loving God requires showing love to other people, because when you love someone you listen to them, and God has told us repeatedly to love one another. Moreover, loving God isn’t something you ever perfect here on Earth, thus you can learn to love God by loving on other people. That’s right, it’s a circle. Love God -> Love People -> Love God -> Love People -> Love God…