Out of all the character traits of the Christian that we have discussed up to this point, encouragement may be the easiest one to express, for there are times that we do not even need to speak to others when they need this attribute.
Have you ever had a close friend that through death lost a close friend, or even a beloved pet, many times all these individuals need is someone to be there, someone to be with them in this time of great sorrow and loss. No words need to be spoken, there will be tears, a hole that can never be filled, but God in His wonderful mercy has blessed us with memories that cannot be remembered perfectly, for if we could recall those deep, hurtful emotions in full, much of our time here would be spent in constant sorrow.
In the Book of 1st Samuel, chapter 30, when the Amalekites invaded Ziklag and took captives of those that were with David at that time, the people that remained spoke of stoning him for what had happened, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. (v.6) How does one encourage themselves in the Lord God, well, for one, we have the entire word of God, inerrant and perfect in wisdom, full of grace and truth. There is always a Scripture verse, an account of something that happened to those who came before us, the Words of Christ Himself to give us what we need every day, encouragement, they are the words of truth, and in them we have life, and the knowledge of how to live it in a way that is pleasing to our Lord. For the lost, even the best words that they can arrive at are at best hollow, for they hold no eternal hope, the transitory things of this world are all that they have to hold onto, and in the end all that they are grasping for will become fleeting.
I have experienced life-threatening situations in my life, times that I truly believed that that this would be my last day here on earth, (Hallelujah!) times when unsaved relatives have come and said to me “Don’t worry, everything will be all right,” while of course rubbing my arm or holding my hand. Now while I realize this comes from either a fear of not knowing what to say or being afraid that they may say the wrong thing at that moment, all it ever did was one of two things, make me feel sorry for them, and upset. Although each time I tried my best to conceal my feelings at those moments, I always wanted to ask them what the winning lottery numbers would be for the upcoming weekend. After all, if they were so sure that I was going to be alright, then why not go ahead and pear a little further into the future and give me more pertinent information. Hollow words, useless words that held no meaning for the relative moment, words meant to encourage, but having no value whatsoever, and so useless to the hearer.
“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” (Prov. 10:19) is a very helpful verse to have memorized, the world gives platitudes, false assurances, and words that have absolutely no hope of the eternal in them, and we should expect no less from them. Spiritual things are not just hard or difficult for the lost to discern, they are impossible, (1st Cor. 2:14) I have known that each time that these life-ending scenarios that have come into my life they were allowed by our Lord, that His merciful provisions would sustain me whether I lived or died, and that it was for his glory that they were happening. Was I overjoyed at these times initially, of course not, they hurt, did I find joy in them though, most assuredly, for earthly circumstances do not alter the character of a Christian. For those who visited me in those times, the lost, I felt nothing but sorrow.
There was a fine brother in Christ who visited me in one of these times, and his question to me was the answer of how David encouraged himself in the Lord, “How are you glorifying God in the midst of this pain and suffering?” He gave me no platitudes of a future he could not see, no false words of encouragement passed by his lips, he wanted to know by my response if I still trusted God. These are words of encouragement my friends, they are difficult words for most believers to speak to others when they are in these positions, but they are the most encouraging, for they make us face the predicament at hand with an answer that must be spoken in faith. These words are not just meant to boost our morale at these moments, they are not meant to lure us away from the possibility of what may happen, they are spoken to motivate us in our firm faith in the only One who can be of any encouragement to us.
By praising His Name, by lifting up the Holy Name of Jesus in your heart, that is how you encourage yourself in the Lord, and it is how we are to encourage each other. Look at both Deuteronomy 1:38 and 3:28, in both of these instances, Moses is speaking to the people about Joshua, and both of these times he tells the people to “encourage him.” Now, I could be wrong, but I doubt what he meant was for them to approach Joshua, slap him on the back or shake his hand and say, “Go get’em Joshua, you can do it.” The Lord our God has an incredible sense of humor, but this was not one of those times that He applied it. This was serious business, for Joshua was about to be in charge of possibly two-million people or more, and not only were their daily needs gong to be his responsibility, but he was preparing them for war, and in war there is death.
I firmly believe that Joshua was a man who knew how to pray, how to have complete guidance, faith and trust in the Lord, and those that he placed around him, those who were the closest to him, knew full well the encouragement that this man needed. They reiterated the Words of God to him, they told him that they were praying for him, they reminded him continuously of the position that the Lord had placed him in, and that his trust should be in God and in God alone. A man that is told these words by others, who follows the will of God for his life, is a man who can stand in confidence of the One who has called him, no matter the tasks, no matter the circumstances. He alone is the rock of our salvation, and in Him alone do we find strength. (Phil. 4:13)
Every single person that you meet needs encouragement, every one of them, your words matter here, for the course of a person’s life cannot only temporarily but eternally be changed by them. Leading by example has very little to do with encouragement unless they are going thru something that you to have experienced, for they will need to see the hope of Christ that is within you. How can you know that the person that you just met on the street, at a business meeting, or just happened to come across isn’t contemplating suicide, or just recently lost a loved one, perhaps they have an issue that is constantly eating at their soul. There is no such thing as luck, chance or coincidence, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit at all times in these encounters, listen intently to what He is saying to you, the one thing that you think that you shouldn’t say may be the one thing that they need to hear.
If you are an obedient, submissive servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are a chosen vessel, and as He has lifted you up, lift up those that you meet with the encouraging words of Christ, they can hear no more love than that from you, our own words are as nothing compared to the wisdom of the Scriptures. “You can do it” are never the proper words for anyone if they are in dire and serious need of encouragement, “Christ has the answer, and He can do it thru you, if you will but heed His call.” The best words of encouragement that we can give to anyone are the Words of the Scriptures, the promises of our Lord. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) Now there’s some encouraging words.