“Anxious hearts are very heavy, but a word of encouragement does wonders!” (Proverbs 12:25)
Encouragement is a vital part of living a victorious life with God, so we must encourage ourselves and others.
When Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) listed the gifts from the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Romans, encouragement was one of them:
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is … to encourage, then give encouragement.” (Romans 12:6, 8)
Most people don’t encourage others; however, some have a supernatural dosage of encouragement to offer. You probably know who they are in your own life
They effectively and often give en-courage-ment to others, increasing their confidence of success, and inspiring them with the power of God’s Holy Spirit in them.
Even if it is not our gift, God calls us all to practice Godly encouragement to the best of our abilities. As we’ll see, there are many reasons for this.
Encouragement Helps Us Win Battles
Encouragement is a critical piece of battlegear that warriors must carry with them as they enter combat.
We see this when God told Moses to encourage His successor Joshua, saying, “Commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him. . . ” (Deuteronomy 3:28; see also 1:38)
We also see this after the death of King David’s son Absalom. While David was grieving, he was not attending to his troops, and they were becoming utterly demoralized.
One of King David’s commanders had to exhort and rebuke David: “Go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall.” (2 Samuel 19:7)
Lack of encouragement attracts defeat. This is true in our spiritual battles as well.
Whatever kind of warfare we are facing, it is vital that we seek encouragement from others, for ourselves, and for those who are entering the battle with us.
Encouragement, like other gifts of the Spirit, are ultimately for the purpose of building up the body of Messiah, which is an important spiritual force. (1 Corinthians 14:12)
A disciple of Yeshua (Jesus) in the Book of Acts found himself in this role.
The apostles gave him the name Barnabas, meaning “Son of Encouragement” perhaps because he exhibited this valuable gift. (Acts 4:36)
Barnabas, who “was a man of faith, full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:24), befriended Rabbi Shaul (Apostle Paul) in Jerusalem at a time when Paul had no friends there.
He persuaded the apostles that this zealous Rabbi Shaul who used to murder followers of Yeshua had personally seen the Lord and now speaks boldly of Him. (Acts 9:27)
Because of Barnabas’ encouragement and support, Paul became a full-fledged member of “The Way” as the disciples called themselves.
Encouragement Is Given and Received through Fellowship
We all know people who need either emotional, social, or spiritual support and we can be that person for them.
And, sometimes, we are the person who needs support.
One of the primary reasons to meet with other Believers in Yeshua as Messiah is to encourage one another and build each other up.
“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)
Rabbi Shaul (Apostle Paul), for example, often gained strength and energy to continue his ministry in the face of great battles because of Believers giving him encouragement. (Acts 28:15; Philippians 4:10; Philemon 13; 2 Corinthians 7:6–7)
In turn, he describes his own ministry as fatherly, “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11–12).
So, we can see that encouragement is a little like God’s love. It is received from the Father and then passed on to others, often in the form of comfort.
After all, He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
In fact, God insists that we comfort and encourage others and not abuse or use anyone, especially our brethren. As we’ll see next, His wrath falls on those who do.
God’s Wrath Is Released on Those Who Discourage Others
The Prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah have strong rebukes for the leaders of Israel — the shepherds — for how they treated their flock, saying:
“You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” (Ezekiel 34:4)
God saw His people living in a state of oppression and discouragement, so he promised to remove the shepherds from their positions as leaders of His flock, just as a good shepherd would deliver his sheep from prowling wolves.
“I will deliver (natzal in Hebrew) My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.” (Ezekiel 34:10; see also Zechariah 10:3–12)
The Hebrew word for deliver in this verse is natzal. It is the word often used for God’s deliverance of the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, such as in Exodus 6:6 and 18:8–10.
God will deliver His people from the discouragement and oppression of others if they call out to Him for help because He wants His people to live in the freedom that only He can offer.
Some Christians, however, are so desperate for comfort and encouragement they will turn to worldly solutions instead of God, such as reading daily horoscopes or visiting psychics.
They might seek out new friends at parties or bars who offer them a false feeling of support in the form of drugs, alcohol, or a sexual relationship.
They will do almost anything to get encouragement.
As brothers and sisters in the body of Messiah, we are warned to watch out for one another and encourage each other to stay away from such destructive and sinful practices.
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12–13)
So let us pray to be good encouragers and to seek out those whom we can encourage in the Word of God.
And, if you need encouragement, please seek out mature Godly Believers in the faith who can give you the words of encouragement you need.