What does it mean to encourage others? Why do we need to be encouraged ourselves? How can we be encourages. These are important questions that I want you to consider with me. Join me as I explain the history, scriptural basis, and give some practical examples.
First, let’s start with the what the word encourage actually means-a brief history of the word itself. The English word encourage comes from the old French word encoragier meaning to make strong. The word corage refers to “courage, heart.” The word relates to the Middle Age belief that the heart is the seat of a person’s emotions and will. To encourage someone literally means to give them courage in the heart.
As we all know from personal experience in life, events and tragedies can cause us to lose hope or focus. Scripture commands us in Hebrews 3:12-14
12Take care, brothers and sisters, that there will not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13But encourage one another every day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partakers of Christ if we keep the beginning of our commitment firm until the end
The deceitfulness of sin in our lives and trials that we face can cause our hearts to be hardened. Thus, encouragement reminds us of our identity and purpose in Christ. Paul reminds Timothy and the Christians in Thessalonians (just 2 examples) of the importance of building each other up (edification). The book of Acts mentions numerous instances wherein Barnabas and others encouraged fellow believers. In fact, it was Barnabas who encouraged the Apostles to meet with Paul and ultimately hear Paul’s testimony. There are numerous biblical examples that could be presented in this discussion.
How can we encourage others in practical ways? Perhaps one of the easiest ways is to practice active listening with others around you. As you encounter people in daily life take time to ask questions and consider needs that become apparent. As you daily read God’s Word, ask Him to point out a verse or truth(s) that He would have to share with someone else. Make time to connect with people through phone calls, email, written messages, online, etc.! Most important of all, seek to have an open heart when engaging others. Look for opportunities to edify and support others. Ask God to give you direction, discernment, and wisdom to speak life into the lives of others!