Monday, October 23, 2017, 11:33 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures in the NIV on the subject of encouragement.
Our Need of Encouragement
We all need encouragement, don’t we? And, by encouragement I don’t mean merely patting one another on the back, and telling one another what will make us all feel good about ourselves, right where we are. Certainly we all need to hear words such as, “I appreciate you,” “Good job,” and “Love you,” if and when they are meant sincerely. But, we also need to be inspired, urged, incited, and persuaded, too, to follow our Lord in obedience to his will, spurring one another on to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24-25).
So, I would like for us all to look at this subject of how we can encourage one another, biblically speaking, in our walks of faith in Christ. This encouragement has to be based in the Word of God, founded on his instructions to us, and be followed through with our obedience, or it won’t happen. What I would like to encourage in us all is that we begin the habit of sharing with one another what God is teaching us each day through his Word and also sharing how God is applying that word to our hearts and lives personally. So, this is not to be a theological exercise, but a place where we can share with one another how God is growing us in our walks of faith.
The Purpose of Encouragement
Hebrews 3:12-14: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”
What is the purpose of encouragement of one another in this passage? It is addressed to genuine believers in Jesus Christ, and yet there is a caution or a warning against hardening our hearts, rebelling against God, sinning against him, and turning away from God in unbelief (lack of faith). And, there is also a declaration of truth that must be understood and accepted, and that is that we are in Christ, by faith in him, IF we hold our original conviction firmly to the end, assuming, of course, that it was the correct conviction (belief) to begin with, which is based in the words of Jesus and those of his NT apostles, who taught us the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, the purpose of encouragement here is that we help one another to not fall into sin and rebellion against God, but instead, we spur one another on to faithful surrender to Jesus Christ. So, how do we do this? Well, one way is by sharing our own walks of faith with one another, i.e. by sharing what God is teaching us each day through our times in his Word, how he is leading us, and how we are implementing those truths into our daily lives and Christian practice. This cannot be in theory only, or coming from intellectual argument, but this has to be personal and practical and applicable to our daily lives.
The Impact of Encouragement
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11: “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He 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.”
So, what is the encouragement here? First of all, it is showing who we are in Christ, if we truly have been born again of the Spirit of God. We are no longer in darkness, bound in our sins, without hope of eternity with God. For, we have been delivered from slavery to sin and given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived to his righteousness. Sin no longer should have mastery over us, but now Jesus Christ should be our ONLY Lord (owner-master). So, since we have been set free, in this way, we should live like Jesus set us free. We should no longer live our lives according to the sinful nature, but now according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we ought to be putting to death the deeds of our flesh (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
For, we were not appointed (chosen, selected) to suffer wrath. This is not saying we will never suffer wrath, but only that the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins was to deliver us out of slavery to sin so that we would no longer be condemned, but so we would live with him for eternity. But, this is a warning coupled with encouragement, for if we persist in sinful practices, walking (living) in sin, we don’t have the promise of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and of fire (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21). So, we are to encourage one another in this way, and the impact will be that we will build one another up in the faith, i.e. that we will help each other develop (grow) in our spiritual walks of faith.
The Result of Encouragement
Ephesians 4:11-16: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
The result (fruit) of this type of encouragement, if each of us does our part in the encouragement and building of one another up in the faith, is that the members of the body of Christ will no longer be immature spiritually, easily swayed by the cunning and craftiness of men (or women) in their deceitful scheming. The body of Christ will no longer be weighed down by all sorts of gross sins, immorality, spiritual adultery and idolatry, too. But, we will become mature in Christ, grow in our walks of faith and obedience, be surrendered to Christ, and committed to his service. And, we will testify to God’s saving grace to a world in need of the Savior.
But, to encourage one another in such a way as this, we must speak the truth in love to one another, not withhold the truth out of fear of being rejected, which we will be, very likely. And, we have to stop lying to each other by telling each other what our itching ears want to hear, in the flesh. To a certain extent, but with caution, guardedness and wisdom, we must make ourselves vulnerable to rejection, persecution, etc. by being transparent about our own struggles, but by sharing what the Lord is teaching us and how he is growing us in our walks of faith, so that we can encourage one another to do likewise, so we all reach maturity in Christ. For, this is the ultimate goal of encouragement, that we would no longer give ourselves over to sin, but that we would be fully surrendered to Christ.
Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures
Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.
For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.
Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.
We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.
Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.
Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!