Encourage Like Their Life Depends On It (Because It Does)

Encouragement has limitless power and unlimited supply at a limited cost.

Think about it: encouragement costs nothing to the giver but enriches the receiver. Sure, I can still remember the hurtful things said to me in the past—they still hurt. But I can also remember the life-giving words said to me, which still give my life joy and meaning. It’s no wonder the Proverbs tell us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Words create worlds, they say. That’s true. But they also destroy them. And it only takes a few years on this planet to see how skilled people are in using words to hurl meteors at our fragile worlds.

But what if we were different? What if the words we use didn’t tear down but build up? What if we were sources of affirmation and love for others, not hubs of criticism and judgment? What difference would it make?

The author of Hebrews comes along and tells us what difference our words can make: 

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Two observations:

  1. The human heart tends to drift. We all feel it. A little compromise here, a little laziness there, multiply it all by time, and wah-lah! Your heart has drifted to the point that you have “fallen away from the living God.” You’re not animated by God anymore. The Bible is dull. Prayer is boring. We’ve all been there and will be there, but with God’s mercy, we won’t stay there.
  2. The key to not drifting depends on others. Not drifting away from God is built upon reliance, not resilience. The author of Hebrews goes as far as to tell us that we simultaneously need to receive encouragement from others and need to encourage others to make it to the end of our lives happy in God.

Get this: someone in your life needs your encouragement today to make it another day. 

So, instead of looking for reasons to critique, belittle, and shame others, what if we entered every conversation today with the intent to bless and encourage? Mark Twain remarked that he could live two months off a good compliment. Imagine if you had a conversation with someone today, encouraged them, and two months from now, when you see them again, they look you in the eye and say, “Remember when you said ______? You have no idea how much I needed to hear that. On some of my darkest days, I remembered what you said, and it got me through. Thank you.” What an honor, a privilege, to play such an integral role in someone’s story in this way. 

So, what are you waiting for? Encourage someone like their life depends on it—because it does.

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