The Power Of An Encouraging Word
Good morning Summit Faith Family!
The apostle Paul wrote more books of the New Testament than any other writer, including Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, to name a few. In each of these letters, he exhorted (encouraged) those congregations in their ministries, their walk with the Lord, and their general faithfulness to the gospel. Each letter includes a unique message to that specific congregation. However, I think it is safe to say that in general those letters were written to encourage those congregations. Providing encouragement would be a natural tone for Paul to take because he was integrally involved in establishing many of those churches on his missionary journeys. He could be described as a man with the gift of encouragement.
To the church in Rome, Paul said: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times.(Romans 1:8-9) To the congregation in Corinth, Paul said: I always thank God for you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge – because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. (1 Corinthians 1:4-6) And to the congregation in Ephesus, Paul said: For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:15-16)
Those are just three examples of the words of encouragement Paul provided to his brothers and sisters in Christ. I am impressed that Paul not only expresses his thankfulness for those congregations, but he also takes the time to tell WHY he is thankful for them. The church in Rome receives a commendation from Paul for their faithfulness in preaching the gospel and because of their faith. The church in Corinth receives a commendation for their knowledge of the gospel, their maturity, and their testimony about Christ. That testimony would have been their evangelistic efforts. Paul had stayed in Ephesus up to three years. So, his connection with that faith family was strong. He commends them for their faith and for the love they have for each other (all the saints).
I do not know how these examples in scripture speak to your heart, but they remind me how important it is for me to take advantage of the opportunity I have to provide words of encouragement and thanksgiving for those with whom I serve. I cannot help but wonder if there are times when we miss out on the opportunity to provide a word of encouragement to one of OUR brothers and sisters, simply because we allow ourselves to be too busy to stop and provide that word.
The writer of Hebrews provides us with a great exhortation himself: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25) I know people come to church for a variety of reasons: to be discipled, to worship and praise God, to fellowship with other believers, and to serve. I am convinced that another reason people come to church is to be encouraged. Just think, YOU might be the person God wants to use to provide encouragement to another brother or sister.
I have experienced my own struggles born out the disappointment that comes from feeling as those I am unappreciated. That usually generates from the absence of encouragement. Is it possible that we have allowed ourselves to become too busy to provide an encouraging word? I believe that as a leader in the church, one of the skills I need to seriously develop is the ability to encourage others. And according to Hebrews, the art of encouraging each other should grow more and more as we move through the later days.
Encouragement is a powerful tool. I have the vision that Summit can and will be the place in our community where people can come and receive an encouraging word, one that challenges them in their faith walk, but also one that empowers them to be successful and even better, one that lets them know how thankful we are for them. It has to begin somewhere. Who could you encourage this week as we come together?