Most visitors to Philadelphia want to see the
liberty bell and the convention hall where representatives of the
first thirteen states forged the constitution of the United States. Gracing the hall where those representatives
assembled is a painting by the highly renowned painter, Benjamin
In later years West told this story how he became
a painter: One day his mother left him with his sister, Sally.
Without mother present to object, he found bottles of food coloring
and proceeded to paint Sallyís portrait. In addition, he made quite
a mess out of the kitchen. When his mother returned, she said
nothing about the messy kitchen. Picking up the paper he was working on,
she exclaimed, "why, itís Sally!" And she rewarded his effort with a
kiss. Benjamin West said, "My motherís kiss that day made me a
painter." Benjamin West was a product of the awesome power of
Most of us can remember goals that at one time
were important to us. We can also remember that in most cases it was
encouragement or lack of it that made the difference in whether we
accomplished our goals or abandoned them altogether
Godís People Are to Encourage One Another
In the book of Hebrews we read that one of the
most important reasons Christians are to meet together on a regular
basis is to encourage one another. "And let us consider one another
in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but
exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day
There are several reason why it is important for
Christians to assemble together:
***The church is formed and becomes visible in
the eyes of man. The meaning of the New Testament word translated
church is assembly.
***Godís people are able to collectively praise
and worship their God.
***Godís people receive instruction in Godís
truth from gifted teachers and preachers.
***Godís people are able to present their tithes
and offerings which expresses their love, gratitude, and worship to
***The unsaved of the community can observe Godís
people in their assembly and hear Godís word of salvation to them.
But notice that the reason emphasized in Hebrews
for Godís people coming together in assembly is to encourage one
We can accept as a certainty that every Christian
is facing inward struggles and outward obstacles. The number of
struggles and obstacles can be countless in variety and they change
with each individual with the passing of time. This is the reason
that Hebrews tells us it is of utmost importance that Godís people
assemble together often.
Meaning of Encouragement
understanding of encouragement is that we say or do something that
makes another person feel good. It is true that when someone is
truly encouraged they will feel good, but that is only a by-product.
The Old Testament (Hebrew) word translated encourage is chazaq
(pronounced khaw-zak). It means "to fasten upon" hence to seize; be
strong. Our modern phrase, "Get a grip on yourself" gives the idea
quite nicely. The New Testament (Greek) word translated encourage in
most recent translations is a form of parakalíeo. Itís basic meaning
is "call alongside". Depending upon the context, it carries the
ideas of comfort, consolation, exhortation and entreaty
Even our English word encourage is helpful. It
means to put courage inside another person.
Every new convert needs encouragement. They are
painfully aware of the influences of old habits and old dependencies
in their fleshly nature. They are very unsure about their ability to
live a consistent Christian life in the presence of still unsaved
family members, friends and co-workers or classmates
. Every husband and wife needs encouragement to
consistently put into their relationship those words and acts of
love that strengthens their marriage.
All parents need encouragement in the challenging
task of raising their children to know God and embrace godly values
in a society that is increasingly hostile to a true Christian life.
Every child needs to be encouraged. That God Öand
other godly people truly loves them.
Every teen needs encouragement in their
frustration of hearing what they ought to be and do, while
constantly seeing attitudes and actions that are just the opposite.
Every Christian needs encouragement because God
has gifted them and given them an assignment to do His will. Some
need courage to just find out what their gift and assignment is.
Some who know their gift and their assignment need encouragement to
go forward in confidence.
No wonder that God inspired those words to be
written, "Önot forsaking our own assembling together, as is the
manner of some, but exhorting one anotherÖ".
God Gives Encouragement
We read that Noah faced the formidable task
of building an ark 450í long, 75í wide and three stories high. We
also read that he was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years and
that there was not one recorded convert outside of his immediate
family. Although Noah may have had moments of discouragement, we
read of none. We do read that "Noah walked with God."
(Genesis 6:9) God kept Noah encouraged until his work was done.
Abraham and Sarah were discouraged that God had
not given them the son He had promisedÖfor 24 years. But they kept
walking with God. In the 25th year God gave back to
Abraham and Sarah their youth. In a state of elated encouragement
God gave them the son He promised.
Such stories abound throughout the scriptures and
every one cries out to us to keep walking with God even when our
path takes us through the valley of discouragement. In due time God
will encourage us and enable us to overcome all obstacles.
Godís People Are To Give Encouragement
In Mosesí day Israel continually wrestled with a
spirit of discouragement. They were discouraged because they thought
they would never get out of the bondage of Egypt. Having
accomplished that, they fell into discouragement because they
thought they would never get through the rigors of the wilderness.
Their greatest discouragement came when they thought they would
never get into Canaan to possess the land. This discouragement was
because of their unbelief and kept them out. All but two of the
adult generation that came out of Egypt perished in the wilderness.
Moses approaches the time he must die. The
generation of Israel of the wilderness journey are camped East of
the Jordan River. On the other side is the land of Canaan. The
walled cities, the fierce giants and the rugged land are still
there. Months of face-to-face, hand to hand combat are anticipated.
The ingredients for discouragement are ample.
Moses speaks to the people "The LORD was
angry with me also on your account, saying, ĎNot even you shall
enter there, Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall
enter there; encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit
it." Most of us know the rest of the story. Against almost
insurmountable obstacles Joshua and Israel stayed encouraged until
they possessed the promised land.
In our New Testament we have a man who was such
an encourager that the apostles gave him the new name of Barnabas
which means "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36 NASB)
We first read about Mr. Encouragement selling a
tract of land and bringing the proceeds to the apostles to take care
of those in the church with physical and material needs. Others
joined him in this effort and we read "ÖNor was there anyone
among them who lacked..." (see Acts 4:32-37)
We next see Mr. Encouragement providing
acceptance of Saul to the Jerusalem church. Before Saul left
Jerusalem he was the leading persecutor of Christians. "Öand
breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the LORDÖ"
Acts 9:1. Saul had a personal encounter with Christ on his way to
Damascus and was transformed from persecutor to preacher. But when
Saul came back to Jerusalem all the Christians were afraid of him.
They thought his conversion was just a ploy to find their
whereabouts and take them into custody. Barnabas personally took him
to the apostles and let them hear with their own ears Saulís
testimony. Both Saul and the church were encouraged.
Following this, word came that a great church was
being formed in Antioch of Phoenicia. There were a couple of things
that troubled the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. The first was
that this rapidly growing church did not have an official preacher.
The other was that it was an integrated church of Jews and Gentiles.
Their decision was that Mr. Encouragement will have to handle this
one. "When he came and had seen the grace of God he was
glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should
continue with the LORD." Acts 11:23. Barnabas didnít stop there.
He went up to Tarsus to get Saul and bring him back to Antioch. He
knew they needed a gifted Bible teacher and Saul was the man to do
the job. Every day he lived he was an encouragement to those who
came into his presence.
We need to remember that all Christians are to
encourage one another.
Some Ways Christians Encourage One Another
Through preaching and teaching Most of us have experienced being encouraged by
both preaching and teaching. Special areas can be addressed by
studies or workshops on specific areas like "Parenting", "Living For
Christ In The Workplace" etc.
Small Groups Provide A Channel For Encouragement
The closeness and confidence found in a small group allows people to
become aware of hard and scary things that others in their group are
facing. This makes it possible for in-depth encouragement to take place.
Encouragement is best done one-on-one,
face to face between people who have a common interest.
Some General Principles of Encouragement:
- Be willing to really listen
- Sharing relevant Bible truths; especially promises of Godís
- Committing to daily prayer about the need.
- Recounting different ways God has met a similar need in the
past from scripture and/or experience.
- Offering to be with the person at the time special courage
will be needed.
- Affirming your confidence that God will supply special grace
in their time of need.
- Reminding them that obedience to God is more important than
- Reminding them that God surely has great reward for those who
have the courage to do the really tough things God has impressed
them to do
And remember what Benjamin West testified, "It
was motherís kiss that day that made me a painter."
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.