As I reflect back on my life, I am incredibly indebted to the many people who encouraged me to keep on keeping on. You have often reminded me of the great cloud of witnesses who are in the bandstands cheering the saints on to “Finish the race. Don’t give up. Keep chugging along.” In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul claims, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
The truth of the matter is…God has given every single believer specific gifts and abilities to be utilized to bring glory to God and edify the church (aka, body of believers). Personally speaking, if others had not been there along the way to encourage me and pick me up, I would have given up a long, long time ago. It can be a difficult task to live counter-culturally. Living against the norm is never easy and well-accepted. We must constantly remind ourselves that the “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:14)
Let’s not give up on encouragement. As you can see, it takes courage to be an encourager. You have to put yourself out on a limb sometimes to lift someone up and say an encouraging word. Doing so can be uncomfortable and uneasy. A few synonyms used by Webster for encouragement are “hearten, cheer, buoy up, uplift, inspire, motivate, and spur on.” Yet, how quickly we forget to speak such words. We get caught up in our own little worlds, neglecting the needs of others.
Think for a moment of someone who has spoken life into you. What was said that made such a difference?Was it their impeccable timing? Or their desire to bring out the best in you? For the record, not every encouraging word feels like encouragement. There have been times when my closest friends have “spoken the truth in love” to me (see Ephesians 4:15). At the moment, I didn’t exactly like what they had to say. It penetrated deep and revealed sin that I did not readily see. But now, as I see the matter more clearly, I am blessed to have such courageous friends.