But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. ~ Hebrews 3:13
We see in Hebrews a clear mandate in Scripture for the church to come around one another and find ways to push one another in the right direction. But one of the most interesting aspects around that command is the “why” behind it.
“…that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…”
Our world is terribly broken and in desperate need of hope. It seems like no matter what corner of our world you look in, you will see things as they should not be. Sitting in that sort of environment will wear a person down over time. It is a place where fear runs rampant and darkness sets in. For the church to neglect our duty to be everyday encouragers will only allow this parasitic environment to be all the more toxic.
God knows that the hearts of man are frail. Even the most faithful of us can only take so much of the tossing and turning of life before we start to break apart. We all need people to step into our lives and remind us of God’s daily grace and presence in our lives. We all need encouragement.
The need is great and the opportunities are endless. So here are five ways you can jump into encouraging others this week:
1) Share Scripture
Being at a loss for words is something that is common for all of me, especially when I’m trying to say something meaningful to those who are in the middle of a hard time. Well intentioned advice can fall flat and words of worldly wisdom can fall flat.
The most profitable words I have in my arsenal are the very words of God. Just like Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 that the word of God exists that the man of God “may be prepared for every good work.” His words are my best weapon and my best ally.
Weave the Bible into daily conversation. Share what God is teaching you through His Word. Text meaningful Scripture to those who are going through a hard time. Get creative but find ways to daily wield the sword that God has given you.
2) Pray over others
If there is an area in my life that needs some attention and improvement, it is my prayer life. I often my prayers too be far too brief, more selfish than I want to be and I rarely ever consider the needs of others that are specifically expressed.
I know that the need for prayer is great in my life, so there’s certainly that same (or even greater) need in the lives of others. That’s why one of Paul’s final charges to the Ephesian church is to lift one another in prayer:
“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” ~ Ephesians 6:18
My prayer life matters – both privately and corporately. That’s why I need to pray for the people that I love in my private prayer time. But I also need to be faithful to recognize times where I can pray over a person in the moment that I see the need. It is in times of public prayer that I’ve been most encouraged by faithful men and woman who have prayed over me.
3) Be a constant presence in other people’s lives
In any relationship, consistency is key and that’s something that I can clearly see in my kids. My life as a speaker takes me all across the country on the majority of weekends. Having to be on the road takes all the time usually takes me away from my family 2-3 days a week and my relationship with my kids suffer because of it.
Yet, when I am home I try my best to make a conscious effort to be with my kids and to do what they love to do. Once I get back in my typical rhythm with them, our relationship really starts to thrive and they feel loved by their daddy.
The same is true with adults. The people who hold the most sway and influence in our lives are those who are consistently there. That’s why the author of Hebrews asks us to consistently gather as the body of Christ. In doing this, we will be faithful to put ourselves around those who will more than likely point us to Christ and so that we can do the same in the lives of others.
4) Affirm the gifts and call in the lives of others
It wasn’t long after I was saved that I felt God calling me into the ministry but I did not feel equipped, gifted or prepared for the task God was calling me to. Over the next 18 months, 3 men poured into me and took their time is showing me pointing out the gifts that God has given me, as well as the evidence of God’s call on my life.
Sometimes we fail to see the gifts that God has given us until a loving person comes alongside us to help unearth what God has placed in lives of those He has redeemed. Just as Paul does with Timothy may I be faithful to see the grace and giftings that God has brought into someone else’s life.
It may be just the nudge that they need.
5) Serve others with what you have
There’s all sorts of gifts bestowed to the church of God. We are all steward of the assets that God has given: time, wealth, relationships, influence and wisdom. But am I using those gifts, however small or large, for the good of the King and His kingdom?
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace ~ 1 Peter 4:10
Whatever gift I may have, God has asked me to use it for His glory, to share His gospel and to edify His church. If I’m good at hospitality it may mean inviting a different family over a couple of times a month for dinner. It could be facilitating a small group so that my church can deepen its sense of community. Or maybe I could rock babies in a nursery so a young mom can spend 90 minutes in worship.
We all have gifts. It is simply up to us to use it to encourage the body of Christ.