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Today’s Truth

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

(Philemon 1:7, NIV)

Friend to Friend

I once 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.

I wonder how our world would change if we took the same approach to encouragement. It takes layers of love and great patience to replenish, restore, and put courage back into a heart that has been wounded.

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.

Let’s Pray

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,

Amen.

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

___Stay close

___Practice encouragement daily

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3 Responses to “The Gift of Encouragement”

  1. Kirsten says:

    Mary, I love your devotions! This one though is my favorite of all time. I have an interesting story about how I needed to become an encourager to save someones life. I might share that story some day. But I will say this, being an encourager is probably one of the most valuable things a person can become. Definitely worth the effort, and it just brightens everyone’s day! Thanks for all of your devotions!

  2. Kathye says:

    What a great message. Today I am focusing on finding ways to encourage those I work with. Thank you.

  3. Alexandria says:

    The first time I read about this tribe doing that, I sat down hard and just imagined the power of such love and restoration-how that would cause any person to always seek to do better. I looked up what they say to each other and my heart melted because their tradition beats like the heart of God- restoring and cover over mistakes so that no mistake is welded to anyone, but rather the message of redemption is the banner placed over each person. Isn’t that what Jesus says matters most of all?

    “Shikoba Nabajyotisaikia!”

    NABAJYOTISAIKIA, is a compliment used in South Africa and means: “I respect you, I cherish you. You matter to me.” In response, people say SHIKOBA, which is: “So, I exist for you.”

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8