Encourage – to fill someone up with courage.
Discourage – to take any shred of courage they have and throw it in the trash.
We wield a lot of power when we choose whether to encourage or discourage another believer.
God has worked with me a lot on the power and necessity of encouraging words over the last few years. A lot of it has showed up on here…
Don’t Diss Someone’s Courage
Encouragement in the Last Days
As we draw nearer to Jesus’ return, it will become almost impossible to maintain our courage. God knew that when He inspired the writer of Hebrews to say, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13, emphasis mine). Did you catch the word “daily” in that verse? We may have been full of courage yesterday, but today it’s zapped. Gone. We need a daily fill up of courage to keep believing, keep loving, and keep serving. Later, he also wrote, “Let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). As the time of the end draws near, we have to get together and fill each other with courage. Otherwise, we won’t be able to serve as God calls us – by loving and doing good works.
I’ve written a lot about how to deal with the discouragement so prevalent in the last days…
My Peace I Give You
A World in Chaos: What can I do?
Where is God in a Tragedy?
The Hand of God
Finding Good Things in Bad Times
Encouragement in general
Jesus may return tomorrow or decades from now; either way, we must keep our courage level full. Our enemy doesn’t want us showing true love or serving in a real way; he knows those things will witness to the world of God’s awesomeness. Our enemy knows if we do those things, people might catch a true glimpse of the Savior of the world. He wants to keep that from happening at all costs. He will do everything in his power to keep you from loving and serving in the same way that Jesus loved and served us. He succeeds when we become discouraged – when our level of courage zeroes out.
I’ve written a lot about the necessity of encouragement in general…
Spark: Five ways to renew the light within you
The God of Peace
Thankful for You: Finding ways to appreciate each other
So, like I said, over the last few years God has really been teaching me the importance of encouragement. Even still, the other day someone said something to me that totally discouraged me. In the day that followed our encounter, I felt completely drained. I didn’t want to pray, study, or write. I didn’t want to serve in other areas – forget responsibilities at home, quit on projects at church. As I look back, I realize now that the words of discouragement left me without the courage needed to love and serve in the ways which God has called me.
I tried praying – more out of discipline than anything else. It helped because God is always faithful to hear us when we call out to Him. It wasn’t complete, though. I knew something else was still missing. I knew griping to a friend or my husband wouldn’t help – been there, done that, doesn’t work.
I saw the person. We talked. We worked it out and reconciled the situation. Grace was required on both sides; forgiveness was present. We parted ways once again in unity as fellow believers in Jesus. Once again, I was encouraged.
What’s the point?
Life’s hard and it’s going to get harder. We can’t let little differences keep us down. Sometimes we have to talk to others and work out our problems. They can’t rob us of the courage needed to love and serve God through difficult times.
God says a lot in His Word about pouring grace out all over the place, sacrificing ourselves with unconditional love, humble forgiveness that looks to the other person first, and complete service that gives until nothing’s left to give. We can’t live that way until we have the courage to do so – courage that comes from the power of words poured into us by our fellow believers.