Proverbs 16:24 ‘Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’
I’ve been really struck recently by the importance of encouragement. Reading 2 Timothy has shown me a lot about how important it is to go out of our way to encourage others – whether it be paying them a compliment or just telling them how much we love them, encouragement goes a long way. When Paul is writing to Timothy (a shy, young Christian leader), he makes sure that he is encouraging Timothy first and foremost, affirming all he is doing whilst suggesting ways in which he can improve in order to become an even more Jesus-centred, Holy Spirit-guided leader.
Paul is actually in prison when he writes to Timothy, yet he is still encouraging! Paul is in a cold prison cell, waiting to be executed by the Emperor Nero, and his main focus is to encourage Timothy and build him up so that he feels capable of being a leader in the Church. I would love to think that if I were waiting to be executed, I would be telling my friends how great I think they are, but I rather suspect I would be completely focused on myself! Paul is so selfless that even as he waits to die, he makes sure that Timothy knows that he is valued, only saying that his suffering is inevitable because he is preaching the Gospel. He praises Timothy for his ‘sincere faith’ (2 Timothy 1:5) and gently encourages him to use the Spirit that God has given him which ‘gives us power, love and self-discipline’ (1:7) – all of which Paul says that Timothy has already, he just needs to remember to use them. Paul is growing Timothy as a leader from his prison cell – that is the power of words of encouragement and affirmation!
If we are not constantly looking to encourage our friends in some way (however insignificant we think that might be), how can we expect them to grow in their faith or even grow as a person? I know that the ‘smallest’ of compliments makes my day – I feel great when someone compliments the outfit I’m wearing or tells me that I’m good at something. Jesus said that we are to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34) so let’s start doing that audibly – people are forgetful and need to be reminded that they are valued… so just tell them they are! Let’s be more intentional in making the people around us feel good! Saying thank you to the bus driver or telling the cashier to have a good day takes just a second of our time, telling a friend that their hair looks great today takes a couple more, but if something encouraging has the power to make someone feel valued and appreciated – I’d say that’s worth doing! ☺
– Emma Cottrell« Kingdom Overflow | God is good »