Recently, at the start of this time, our pastor said we should "encourage someone in the Lord."
I wondered, "Uh, what's that mean? How do you encourage someone in the Lord?"
Apparently I'm not alone. After the greeting time, he said someone asked him that exact question during the share time. Well, maybe not exact; they probably didn't have the eloquent "uh..." at the beginning.
EncourageMy daughter is doing a section on prefixes and suffixes in her Language Arts studies right now. She has lists of questions where she has to figure out which prefix goes with which root word in order to make an accurate list of words. I'm going to use this same idea here.
The root word is courage. Maybe that's obvious to you, but it took me a long time to see the courage in encourage.
The prefix en- means to cause someone to be in something. So, if you encourage someone you cause them to have courage.
If you encourage someone to start a new job, you give them courage to do that job.
If you encourage someone to move to a new area, you give them courage to make that move.
If you encourage someone in the Lord, you give them courage to actively serve the Lord.
DiscourageLike my daughter's Language Arts lesson teaches, root words can change meaning by adding a different prefix. Remove the en- and add dis- and the whole thing changes.
The prefix dis- means to take away or apart. It also means to have a negative or reversing force on something. If you discourage, you take apart someone's courage. You reverse the force of their courage.
If you discourage someone in a close relationship, you take away their courage to love and trust. You reverse the force of their love.
If you discourage someone in a decision, you take away their courage to make a decision. You reverse the force of their ability to choose.
If you discourage someone in the Lord, you take away their courage to serve God. You reverse the force of their service.
How can you use your words and actions to EN-courage rather than DIS-courage? How can you cause someone to have courage to serve God rather than tear apart what little courage they might have?
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose" (Philippians 2:1-2).