Pastor Dick Nichols
Cedar Creek Community Church
2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta
The coming together with fellow Christians is stated in the scriptures as an act of mutual encouragement. We read in the book of Hebrews, “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 10:24-25, NIV).
When as Christians, we worship together, pray together, and in general work together as a community, it is as followers of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is about belonging to a community of faith, a group that is called to build each other up, and encourage one another. One wonders why we would need to be instructed to be an encourager; why would Jesus need to teach his disciples and us about having compassion and a heart toward encouragement?
I think we can safely say that answer lies in the fact that this is against our very nature. We are often self-centered and selfish, and if something doesn’t touch our lives or the lives of our family and friends, then it’s not our affair and we choose to stay uninvolved. That is why Jesus had to teach his disciples about being encouraging, and why we still need the lessons today.
Yet, if we just look around us, it is apparent that there is a lot of hurt and discouragement. Where is the church of Jesus? Where are we making a difference with a little compassion here and some encouragement over there? One thing that I have discovered in my personal life is that most encouragement is one on one. Of course there is a great need for the corporate involvement in some cases, but by and large our opportunities to encourage others occur more spontaneously as we follow God’s leading through this life.
God gives us numerous illustrations of encouragement throughout his word, and in one instance we read of a Christian in the book of Acts (Acts 4:36), a man by the name of Joses, who was given the name of Barnabas. The name Barnabas was interpreted as “son of encouragement,” a nickname given him by the apostles, descriptive of his inclination to serve others and willingness to encourage wherever it was needed.
The root meaning of the word encourage simply means, “to put courage into.” God has created us in his image as social beings, something we see throughout scripture as God is all about relationships, as indicated in his institution called the church. In Hebrews we also read, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).
God gives each of us opportunities every day to show our love for one another and our care and concern and support for one another to be encouragers, not for our glory, but to display his love for others through us. It is through our connection with Jesus Christ that we are connected to one another and our common union with Him produces our union with each other.
Everyone can use a little encouragement on a regular basis. May God help us to be men and women more like Jesus—bold enough to reach out and touch a hurting world with encouraging (putting courage into) words and acts in Jesus’ name.