Encouragement: A Neglected Spiritual Practice

When was the last time you neglected something?

Perhaps it was cleaning the house, taking the dog on a walk, getting the car serviced, or like me, neglecting to go to the dentist for three years only to find out when you go that you have more cavities than you have fingers (true story).

In my experience, one of the most neglected practices and disciplines in the Christian life is biblical encouragement.

In Hebrews 3:12-13 the author is urging the church to hold fast to the gospel and thus prove that they are true disciples of Jesus. And the primary way the church helps one another persevere is through “exhort(ing) one another” (v. 13). The word “exhort” can be translated to mean urge, implore, or encourage. So, when the author tells the church to persevere in the faith, he sees encouragement as one of the primary ways by which God holds His people fast until the very end. In addition, this short—but essential—command gives us three facts about biblical encouragement.

​Fact #1: Everyone is commanded to encourage others.

​One simply cannot read the New Testament and come away thinking that encouraging others can be outsourced to the “professional encouragers.” And in case you were wondering, these are the people that get up in the morning and can smile without coffee. All Christians are called to encourage one another “as long as it is called ‘today.'”

​Fact #2: No one is a “natural encourager.”

​Many people hear, “we are all commanded to encourage others,” but they quietly think to themselves, “I’m just not an encourager by nature.” The fact of the matter is: no one is! Paul commands the Philippian church in Philippians 2 to “do all things without grumbling and complaining” because we are prone to do that very thing! While God does give some people the gift of exhortation/encouragement (Romans 12), all Christians are born with their Ph.D. in complaining, not encouragement. Encouragement is a discipline to cultivate, not a trait inherited.

​Fact #3: Everyone needs encouragement.

​Hebrews 3 tells us that without daily encouragement and exhortation from other believers we will be “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” This a clear reminder that encouragement is not a mere matter of preference—”I may or may not do it”—but a matter of life and death. Every born-again believer needs encouragement to press on and endure to the very end.

Biblical encouragement is commanded, unnatural, and needed. Who will you encourage today?

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