Are You an Encourager? (Part 2)
It's been said that Christianity is a relationship religion and that encouragement is the chief element in all good personal relationships. I believe that to be a true statement. Relationships require encouragement in order to be strong. When a couple is dating, for instance, there is typically a lot of encouragement flowing in both directions. However, if one is not careful, things will start being taken for granted. Relationships can continue without encouragement, but they won't be great relationships!

Does God expect us to encourage each other? The Scriptures answer with a resounding "yes"! Paul stated in I Thessalonians 5:11 - "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." Hebrews 3:13 teaches - "But exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 10:24,25 instructs - "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

Elsewhere in God's word we see that the Lord commanded Moses to encourage Joshua as the baton of leadership was in the process of being passed - "Go up to the top of Pisgah, and lift your eyes toward the west, the north, the south, and the east; behold it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan. But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see" (Deut. 3:27,28). Galatians 6:10 instructs Christians to "do good to all" as they have opportunity (certainly this would include encouraging).

Becoming a more encouraging person is simply a matter of desire or choice, and dedication to that decision. In other words, it's a matter of attitude. We will have ups and downs in every aspect of our lives. Some days will be more encouraging than others, but we must strive to continually move in a more positive direction with the passing of time. Stock market investments provide a good illustration on this point. Although there will be some ups and downs on a regular basis, one expects to see positive growth and improvement over a span of time. One would be disappointed if his investment lost value over a long period of time. Likewise, God is certainly disappointed if His children fail to grow in a positive direction and become more encouraging.

Are you a better encourager today than you were five years ago or have you become more negative or even cynical? Are you continually comforting and edifying others as you could (and should) be? Try to evaluate this as best you can (perhaps even ask your spouse or a close friend for an honest evaluation). Friends, may we delight in opportunities to give praise!

We will continue this series in our next lesson.