Monday, August 22, 2011
Power of Encouragement
One of the greatest joys in life is to watch individuals grow to reach their full potential and to know you may have had a small part in their growth. The secret to this accomplishment is to convince people that they can do great things. True, everyone does not have the same degree of potential but everyone can develop the potential they do have. While there are many things that can be instrumental in motivating someone to reach their potential, there is no greater tool than encouragement.
While most of the secular world understands the importance of the “power of encouragement”, the one place that should understand it best, seems to understand it least. I am speaking of the church. Far too often, the church (people not the building) gives the impression that it expects its members to fail in their efforts to reach their full potential in their Christian walk. This is especially true for the prodigal, who returns to the fold. While outward there may be celebration, inward there is often an undercurrent of skepticism about the sincerity of the individual’s actions.
Wherever this expectation for failure originates, it is not the Scripture. The Scripture clearly instructs us to be encouragers of one another. In Hebrews 12:1 (NASB) we read, “Therefore, since we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” While everyone can not agree on who makes up the cloud of witnesses, the overall implication is clear. We have a heavenly host of witnesses watching us and pulling for us. They are not watching expecting us to fail but they are expecting us to run our race successfully. They are our cheering section.
If we have a heavenly cheering section, should we not cheer and encourage one another? Scripture exhorts us to do just that. Paul writes in Romans 14:19 (NASB), “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” The writer of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 3:13 (NASB), “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’, lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Neither of these verses refers to success in the secular world. They refer to encouraging each other in the faith. It is hard to live the Christian life in our world. Considering the difficulty, it makes sense for us to stop stoning one another and to start encouraging one another to move forward and to grow to reach maturity in our faith.
Wherever you are in your race, I want to encourage you to keep on keeping on. There will be times when you feel like quitting. There will be times that you stumble and fall. There will be times when you feel those around you are expecting you to fail. When these times come, remember all the people you have pulling for you. Get up; dust yourself off. Continue the race. The victory awaits you at the finish line. With God’s help, you can do it.