Encouragement is emphasized in the Bible because it is necessary to our walk of faith. Jesus told us that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (Jn. 16:33b).” Christ even told His followers that they would be hated (Jn. 15:19). He did not sugar coat the Christian walk. However, He did temper His honest forecast with cheer. He reminded them that He has overcome the world. The battle has been won. We are victorious over every sin and adversity because the blood of Jesus covers and empowers us.
Jesus was a clever teacher and did not shy away from the truth. But He knew the importance of encouraging His disciples. When Peter denied Jesus three times, before the crucifixion, his heart must have been crushed when the rooster crowed and the Lord’s prophecy of his denial came to mind (Matt. 26:34).
“’Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’” Matthew 26:34 (NIV)
After His resurrection, Jesus made a point of speaking to Peter about love. While by the Sea of Tiberius, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. The elephant in the room, Peter’s denial, was finally addressed.
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My lambs.’
Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of My sheep.’
The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ He said, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My sheep.’” John 21:15-17 (NKJV)
Jesus made it perfectly clear that Peter was not only forgiven his denial but also raised him to a position of authority and leadership when He said, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus restored Peter’s crushed spirit. Through His words of healing, Peter led many to salvation and glorified God.
So many scriptures demonstrate the power of encouragement. Such words will build up and strengthen men. Moses was a wonderful encourager. Even though he was old and not permitted to enter the promised land, he put aside any disappointment he may have felt and encouraged the Israelites.
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
David had a friend by the name of Jonathan who encouraged him during difficult times. A good friend will always remind us that God is by our side. No matter what the trial, God promises to be our strength and refuge. He equips us for each test and adversity we must face.
“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”
1 Samuel 23:16-17 (NKJV)
When the Moabites and Ammonites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat he cried out to the Lord. Through the prophet Jahaziel, God encouraged Jehoshaphat by saying he should not be discouraged or fearful of the vast army.
‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15b (NKJV)
In turn, Jehoshaphat encouraged the people of Judah and Jerusalem with the following:
“Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in His prophets and you will be successful.’” 2 Chronicles 20:20 (NKJV)
In faith, we must put our trust in God and believe that He is able to help, guide, support, provide, and lead us through every battle. Jehoshaphat could have doubted the words of God and discouraged his people by saying, “Run for the hills. We are about to die!”
We have a decision to make when we speak to our children. We can build them up or tear them down. Wrongdoing can be addressed and should be confronted, but our words should be spoken in love. Consider your tone of voice, the setting, and timing. Admonishing children to the point of shame and embarrassment is not an act of love. Speaking in anger and in public places will not promote change or build character.
Just as Christ encouraged characters in the Word of God, let us also encourage and instruct those in our life. Remind everyone that through Jesus, the battle over sin and death is won and forgiveness is free for those who repent. Speak life into broken and weary souls by giving them hope. Use your words to build up the weary and praise God for the friends who walk by our side and helps carry our burdens.
“ 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 (NIV)