We all need to be encouraged from time to time; actually daily encouragement would be welcomed by most of us, I’m sure. Encouragement usually takes the form of words spoken to us that are both complimentary and affirming, validating us in our choices and actions. But if others tell me only what I want to hear, or what they think I want to hear, rather than the truth I need to hear, is that really encouragement?
Encouragement is necessary for the strengthening of our faith. In Acts 14:21-22 we read that Paul and Barnabas were “strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, ‘It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.’ ” Sounds more like a dire warning than encouragement, if you ask me.
But here’s the thing. Encouragement tells the truth. And here’s something else. Jesus prayed these words for us, “Father . . . Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) So if I want to encourage a friend, I can trust that God’s word will get the job done because God’s word is truth and encouragement tells the truth. Without truth, (the whole truth and nothing but the truth) words meant to encourage are hollow and devoid of any real power to strengthen anyone’s faith.
God’s word, however, is full of power. “so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Now Paul and Barnabas were telling the disciples that they would have to “pass through many troubles” (ie. hardships, trials, suffering) not because they wanted to talk the disciples out of following after Jesus but because they wanted to encourage them to keep on believing in and following after Jesus. So why the doom and gloom?
Taking a closer look at what they said, we see that the end is “on our way into the kingdom of God.” Truth containing hope. A happy ending. The truth of God’s word is hope to whoever reads it. God’s word is an encouragement to me because it tells me the truth and in so doing gives me hope.
Jesus said in John 16:33, ” . . . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” this is truth full of hope.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) again truth filled with hope which brings encouragement
” . . . now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7) more truth & hope!
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10) this is encouragement, truth plus hope
Paul said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul could say this because of Jesus’ words of encouragement to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 & 9)
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) truth- I will have to walk through some valleys; hope – my Heavenly Father is always with me; this encourages me and strengthens my faith during the times I spend in those dark, dangerous valleys
” ‘Come now, let us reason together’, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18) truth – my sins have stained me; hope – God provided a way to erase that stain when He sent Jesus
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) truth – God loves me; hope – if I believe in Jesus, whom God sent, I have eternal life. nothing could be more encouraging than this!
“Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) we can and should encourage others, dear readers, with God’s words.
because encouragement = truth + hope and God’s word is full of both!
sincerely, Grace Day