Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Friend to Friend
I recently read about an African tribe that has what we might consider an unusual approach for dealing with people who make mistakes. When a member of this tribe does something wrong, they take the person to the center of the village where the tribe surrounds him. For two days, they remind him of the good things he has done. The tribe believes that mistakes are often a cry for help, and hope to provide that help through the layers of encouragement they freely give.
Dan began making wooden furniture when we lived in South Florida. My job was to stain and finish the pieces after he had completed them. I had never worked with wood or stain and did not know much about how to accomplish the task. But I knew who did.
I headed to our local hardware store. I explained to a salesclerk that I wanted to finish some furniture—today. I was in a hurry to place it in just the right spot in the house and wanted to get this staining business over with quickly. He smiled and patiently explained that it takes time to achieve the best finish. He obviously did not understand.
Once again I explained my simple plan. Ignoring my words, he said that a beautiful finish requires repeated layers of stain and lacquer with time to dry in between. His last words stayed with me, “There are no shortcuts if you want the final product to be right.”
Encouragement is like that. It takes layers of love and great patience to replenish, restore, and put courage back into a heart.
Encouragers look for opportunities to work. Every day we cross paths with hurting people. A word of encouragement, an act of kindness, or a caring smile may be enough to keep them on their feet.
We all need the closeness of relationship.
We all need to know we are loved.
We all need encouragement.
“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).
An encourager is one who knows you as you are, understands where you’ve been, accepts who you’ve become, and still gently invites you to grow. How often do we need to practice encouragement? Daily. Continually. Constantly.
The key to constant and daily encouragement is to vary our forms of encouragement and the people who receive that encouragement.
Acts 4:36 tells us about a man who came to Christ. His life was changed so dramatically that he sold his land and brought the money to give to God through the early church. That is very impressive. But the most impressive thing about this man called Joseph is that the disciples changed his name. They called him Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.”
Are you an encourager? Would your friends suggest changing your name? Would your spouse or your children? What about your neighbors or that person in your life who is struggling to find a ray of light in their darkness?
The message is clear. Just as Christ has come into our lives to encourage us, we are to give that encouragement away. The most amazing truth is that the more encouragement we give, the more we will receive in the circle of encouragement.
Jesus promises, “If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you” (Luke 6:38, nlt).
Let’s be encouragers.
Father, thank You for the way You are always here for me. Your faithfulness and love overwhelm me. Your Word is a light for every step I take. Your encouragement keeps me on my feet every single day. Lord, I want to give that encouragement away to others. I want to be an encourager to my family, to my friends – to the people You allow to cross my path every day. God, teach me how to be an encourager.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read and memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…and we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
How do you rate as an encourager? Which of the following areas do you need to work on in order to give encouragement to the people in your life who need it?
___Demonstrate great patience
___Offer sensitive instruction
___Practice encouragement daily
More from the Girlfriends
A word from Mary: I have a weekly Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. I am very excited about a new study beginning September 5, Taking Down the Giants in Your Life. Do you struggle with fear, stress, jealousy, anger, and depression … the roadblocks to happiness and joy? Let’s tackle each one and see what God has to say. Join now and get all of 2016 lessons plus bonus studies in the summer.