The Oil of Encouragement

Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” – Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)

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I’ve been in some really down places in my life and cannot over emphasize the importance of encouragement. Honestly, I would have fallen flat on my face if I did not have family and friends willing to encourage me. However, my thought today is that the act of encouragement is far from passive, it is an active process. Little wonder the word says “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). It’s called “taking the initiative.”  The text above encourages us to encourage one another and to do even more as we see the Day approaching. Do we really see the Day approaching? Are we encouraging one another?

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Encouragement is the ability to come alongside someone else and cause them to be more mature and to help them see beyond themselves and the present. It’s the ability to empathize and pour oneself out for another and share their burdens and fears. It is so needed, but unfortunately it is so absent…even among believers. Instead, what often happens is that we rather just talk about what others have shared with us and pass judgment on them.  Especially now when there is just no time, it takes a significant level of selflessness and sacrifice for us to “encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV).

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I think about the story of David and Jonathan and something big stands out for me, Jonathan didn’t choose to have David as a friend; he chose to be a friend to David. There’s a big difference! He didn’t operate on the basis of his need and demand David’s attention. Rather, he operated on the basis of supplying David’s need. When you step out of your needs and take the initiative, you’ll find that people will see your willingness to invest yourself, and they’ll reciprocate. When Jonathan gave David his robe, his armor, and even his weapons, he was providing encouragement to David, to counteract King Saul’s hatred. However, he left himself vulnerable and open to attack in the process, how selfless that was.

We have a great example in the New Testament: the apostle Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Whilst all the other disciples were afraid of Saul (Paul) and doubted his conversion, Barnabas took him under his wing (see Acts 9). When Paul wanted to leave Mark behind, Barnabas went so far as to split with Paul so he could partner with Mark (see Acts 15).By encouraging Paul, Barnabas was affecting the man who would write nearly half of the New Testament. And his ministry to Mark encouraged the man who later wrote the third Gospel. You don’t know what effect your encouragement might have!

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Today and every day we have an opportunity, and a duty, to encourage somebody. “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV).

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