"He (Jesus) died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
—1 Thessalonians 5:10-11
Can I tell you a secret? My husband sometimes sends me romantic emails, the kind that have beautiful pictures, sweet sayings and soft music. They usually make me cry. My boys laugh at me. Evidently it is hilarious to see Mom staring at a computer screen with tears running down her face. But you know what? I don't care. When I get one of those emails, it isn't tears of sadness I am crying but tears of joy, tears of encouragement. It makes my day. It's kind of funny that something so small can mean so much.
We live in a world that is constantly tearing us down. Sometimes I feel like everywhere I turn I am being beaten over the head, being reminded of my failures, my flaws, all the things I need to improve upon. It seems that around every corner there is someone waiting to tell me all the things I need to get started, get finished or get over. Exercise. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Think nutrition. Think fitness. Think organic. Save money. Save energy. Save the earth.
Unfortunately, I sometimes even feel that way at church. That's a hard thing to admit, but it's true. I should be reading the Bible more. I should be praying more. I should be witnessing more. I should be ministering more. I should be giving more. I should discipline my children better. I should be more joyful. I should... I need to... I ought to be... It's exhausting.
The truth is this. I am pretty aware of all the areas in which I need improvement, and I usually know when I make a mistake (or several for that matter). As a believer, the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin, and while I do sometimes ignore His voice, He is persistent in calling me back to Him. I am not saying that we don't all need an occasional rebuke. We do. I am not saying that we don't need to be taught. We all can benefit from Godly teaching. What I am saying is that what I benefit from the most is a little encouragement. In fact, encouragement is a lot like hot sauce. A little goes a looooong way.
Everyday struggles with family and finances are like weights tied around our ankles as we try to ascend the muddy mountainside of life. Serious health issues, job losses, deaths, and other forms of crisis are like barbells hung around our necks. It is no wonder that divorce, depression and suicide seem rampant and even contagious. When mountain climbers are ascending or descending together, if one slips, it affects the whole group. But astute climbers know how to pull the ropes just right to help "catch" a falling climber, to help save not just him but the whole group. After all, they are tied together for a reason.
That's like us. As Christians we are tied together in this world through our bond in Christ. God tells us to "encourage one another and build each other up." We are here to help save each other from the discouragement that can so easily wear us down, and it isn't as difficult as it may seem. Just like my husband's emails, sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. A little encouragement can give us just enough "umph" to make it one more day, and just like discouragement, it too is contagious. So, how 'bout it? What can you do to build someone up today? What do you find encouraging? Consider my suggestions below and add your comments. It would be an encouragement for me to read them!
Ways to Encourage Others:
A smile and a hug
A brief conversation or simple "How are you?" (Remember if you ask, really listen!)
A hand-written note (Who doesn't like getting real mail?)
An inspirational e-mail (with a personal note attached) or a Facebook chat
Inviting someone to your home for a meal or taking her out to eat for lunch
Remembering a birthday (Call and sing the birthday song)
Volunteer to babysit
An inexpensive gift just to show you care (bookmarks, key chains, sample bottles of hand lotion, etc.)
Offering to pray with/for someone going through a rough time
This post is a reprisal of a previous post.