<<support, give confidence>>

Encouragement enriches and gives a lift to the spirit and it’s exhilarating to be around people who are generous with this powerful, stimulating tool whereas criticism destroys and discourages people. Are we as quick to give, and as generous in our praise and encouragement as we are to criticise when things don’t go to our liking? Our words have great power and potential to uplift or tear down another – so use the tongue wisely (Prov 16:24, 18:21; Jas 3:5,6).

We all need love and encouragement – don’t wait for others to act first, take the initiative and with Christ’s enabling reach out and minister placing more emphasis on giving than receiving. We will be mutually encouraged as we give and receive (Mt 7:2; Rom 1:12; Gal 6:7-10).  Encouragement through supportive words and actions, besides regularly praying

If we like receiving it, chances others will too

for people, shows we believe in them and their ability – it uplifts and builds confidence. When a person attempts something and fails, come alongside them with empathy, not to condemn or point out where they went wrong, rather in their disappointment support them (that at least they tried and through setbacks lessons can be learnt) and encourage them to get up and try again. We are God’s ‘hands’ to embrace and a ‘shoulder’ to let them cry on (Rom 12:15).

Provide extra encouragement for those you love, during trying and difficult times, through the careful use of words, genuinely spoken, such as ‘I care and believe in you’. Encourage them to press on in their pursuit of holiness and to live out the truth of our relationship and position in Christ – “The Lord is my shepherd…He is with us always…Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Ps 23:1; Mt 28:20; Rom 8:28-39). Positive change takes place when truth is presented, especially in the context of loving encouraging relationships, whereas harsh, cutting comments bring fear of exposure and rejection, hindering ones walk through life.

When David’s life was under threat from his followers he “encouraged himself in the Lord” (1 Sam 30:6).  This shows that although we should give encouragement to, and receive it from others we can also lift our own spirits up – not having to rely on others to do it for

Who have I encouraged today?

us. He turned his attention from himself to God. When self is the focus of our vision life gets out of perspective. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God” (Ps 42:5,11, 43:5). As God is the real source of all that is good, acknowledge He has helped and enabled in the past and His power hasn’t changed.  He has given us life, is watching over us now and beyond this life will receive us to glory (1 Pet 1:3-6). Verbally express your praise to Him and appreciation to others. Draw emotional strength from the Bible; God chose us in Christ, being marked out beforehand to receive an eternal inheritance (Eph 1:4,11).

We are to encourage one another with the blessings we already have in Christ and to inspire hope for what is yet to be entered into (1 Thes 4:18, 5:11,14). An encourager is ‘other’ focused. Be available and listen not just to their words but also to the unspoken or disguised feelings conveyed. With sensitivity draw the person out in a non-judgmental way, in words that express an interest in hearing more without rejecting or shutting them down. Often it costs no more than being observant to see an admirable quality or area you can encourage in another and then conveying that – this will motivate them to continue to improve. Encouragement views others as valuable, yet with the potential to change even more.

We all fear rejection in some form. The power of encouragement is its ability to understand and convey acceptance to another when their needs and faults are exposed and they may feel threatened.

The Holy Spirit is ‘one who comes alongside to help’ (Jn 14:16,26). As God’s children we also are given the privilege and responsibility to “Encourage one another...” (Heb 10:25). On the oft-times hard, discouraging path of life, the

Encouragement gives hope and acceptance

Bible instructs us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). To encourage yourself count the blessings that are yours because Christ is your Saviour, while looking beyond your own problems to uplift others who are down, “Doing to others as you would like done to you” (Lk 6:31). Job’s situation radically changed for the better when he was outward focused and ministered to others (Job 42:10).

The Bible was written so that through endurance and its encouraging message we might have hope, and being in unity with one another will glorify God (Rom 15:4,5).

See also: compliment, discouragement, edify, empathy, friends/friendship, golden rule, others, self-esteem, self-pity, support, thankfulness, vanity, words.