Ever been in a tough situation and felt like no one knew or cared, and then had someone tell you ‘Oh life’s tough for everybody, so just snap out of it!’ Not very helpful, is it? It’s a description of what discouragement means. If you’ve been in a place like this, you also know how important a word of encouragement is to the human spirit. It’s like speaking LIFE instead of death. How good to know NOTHING is impossible with God. He’s there for us. However, of course this doesn’t mean we won’t face troubles or difficulties.
The word encourage means to lend or ‘give’ courage to. If you can’t help someone in a physical way, you can always encourage them with your words, a smile, or just by being there. Encouragement is so easy yet seems so difficult for some. Why? Because encouragement always requires a letting go of ‘self’. Encouragement is impossible if ‘self’ isn’t out of the way. Encouragement is an action word. It implies doing and giving. And encouragement is powerful. It’s like pouring sunshine into someone’s soul.
Encouragement smiles. Discouragement grimaces. Encouragement shines. Discouragement is dark, mean, selfish, and ugly.
In its purest form, sincerely encouraging others actually costs absolutely ZERO! But giving encouragement pays huge dividends. When we encourage others we actually end up benefiting just as much as the person we’ve set out to encourage. Not only does the person(s) we encouraged feel better. So do we.
Encouragement builds. Discouragement tears down. Encouragement praises and believes. Discouragement doubts and criticizes. When we build others up we also build and uplift our own spirit.
In a letter to the Hebrews in the Bible there’s an often overlooked gold nugget lesson of life tucked away in a few short words. Encouragement…from God’s perspective goes like this: Encourage one another daily… Hebrews 3:13
We can choose every single day of life to make a difference in the lives of others…or not. We can give or we can take. We can encourage or discourage. In the end, when we take away from others by discouraging them through careless words, neglect or disrespect, we only hurt ourselves.
The words about encouragement in Hebrews don’t end there. The Bible verse goes on to say that when we don’t encourage others daily, there’s actually a consequence. When we don’t encourage others our hearts and souls are in grave danger of becoming cold. We can end up losing out altogether. God wants us to be encouragers, not discouragers. We’re to do for others what we’d want them to do for us.
Let’s not say ‘Good luck’, but God Bless! Let’s start building a better world.
Copyright 2011. S. Michaels
From Notebook: What Have You Got to Lose?