Did you know that September 12th is the National Day of Encouragement in the United States? Proclaimed as such during the tenure of President George W. Bush, this day has been set aside as a day to “encourage someone you know.” To my knowledge, Canada hasn’t yet adopted this holiday.
It got me thinking about how we as believers have a greater mandate from an even higher source, the highest there is—the God of the universe—to not just encourage each other once in a while, but to do so as a way of life!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”
The question becomes how? Let me suggest 4 ways you can “encourage one another”, and in doing so, “build each other up.”
1. Gather with other believers regularly
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”
This verse implies that encouragement comes from gathering together as believers for worship, fellowship, and teaching. Just the simple act of choosing to meet with other Christians regularly creates the opportunity both to give and receive encouragement. I have felt encouraged just seeing members of the congregation back in church, after not seeing them for some time. Just your presence can be an encouragement to someone. Of course it also means that as you are present, it will be an encouragement to you.
2. Speak encouraging words to others
If you see someone stepping out in a ministry, encourage them to continue. If you discern that someone is struggling in some area, send them an uplifting note or give them a cheerful phone call. If you hear of someone battling a sickness, let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them. One of the primary ways your words can be encouraging is to pass along words of Scripture to them. An appropriate Scripture relating to their struggle or need can bring make such a difference. You don’t need to have all the right words; just share the Word of God!
3. Carry each other’s burdens
Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” When we carry each other’s burdens we fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? It is the law of love—to love one another. When we make ourselves available to someone in need, we are carrying their burden with them, and showing love to them. I recall one time when Erin was on bedrest during the pregnancy with Holly, and we were feeling overwhelmed, various people brought us meals. That act of kindness did so much to encourage us. Is there someone in the church family or your neighborhood that you feel could use some specific help? Maybe you could cook a meal for them or send them food on delivery, or give them an anonymous gift of cash. The list of possibilities is endless.
4. Serve in some ministry in the church
At the end of his letter to the church in Rome, Paul mentions 26 believers by name (in the church) who had been a great encouragement to him. He mentions “Phoebe, a servant” who had “been a great help to many people, including me” (Romans 16:1). He also mentions, “Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord” (Romans 16:12). William Barclay, in his commentary, points out that the names Tryphena and Tryphosa in Greek mean ‘dainty’ and ‘delicate’. While they might have been dainty and delicate, these women had a reputation for being hard workers for God. They took seriously the idea of serving. They weren’t content to sit around and merely receive, they also made it their goal to give of their time, their resources, and their talents. Their devotion to serving in the church was so encouraging to the apostle Paul that he mentioned them by name (perhaps as way of encouraging them back!).
Let each day bring new possibilities in the realm of being an encourager. It’s something all of us can do.