"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." ~Christopher Robin to Pooh (A.A. Milne)
We don't have to dive into psychology or explore the Bible to see why encouragement is important to us. Encouragement keeps us moving forward when the road gets tough, it gives us affirmation that we need to keep trying. We need it to get by in this often less-than-pleasant world. We've all had days that were just awful. It's not hard to remember a day where you just felt beat down. Maybe nothing went right. Maybe some around you were just plain hateful that day. Maybe you had a mountain on your horizon and worry was creeping in, making it hard to hold on to your faith. We all have those days. I've looked up before and asked, "God, what is going on here? What do you want from me?" I can't be the only one who has had those moments.
Then God sends the right person- and the right words- along to get you through. You know without any doubt that person and those words were ordained by Him as a gift for you. Those words can be the very things we needed to hear. That encouragement makes all the difference.
It's not hard to see that we are supposed to build each other up. We are clearly compelled to build (and not tear down). Let's take a quick look.
- "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
- "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. " ~Proverbs 25:11
- "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. " ~Hebrews 10:24-25
- "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." ~Ephesians 4:29
I'm certainly no expert, but it's obvious that we are supposed to encourage one another. Sure, there are times when this is difficult to do, but we're still called to do it. There's no exception that says to edify when it's easy or convenient. There's also no exception that says to edify when you think it's warranted. Even if someone around you seems to be making all the wrong choices or has turned his back on God, you can still encourage. Ripping apart isn't your only option. I know some who disagree with this, but I'm a fan of positive reinforcement. There's a time and place for correction too, but I don't ever want to be remembered as someone who only spoke when things were wrong. I want to encourage others to keep going and keep serving.
In closing, I heard a pastor speak about encouragement months ago. He said that you can't wait until someone is dead to tell them what they meant to you. We do that all the time, don't we? We wait until it's too late to encourage and leave those words unsaid. Let's do better. Let's be authentic and make a conscious effort to build. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it has to happen. Build.