How many of you have ever needed the ministry of discouragement? I don’t mean talked out of a bad idea or steered in a different direction via the courageous confrontation of a faithful friend. I mean how often have you needed to have your courage revoked? No one ever needs that. Rather, people deeply and regularly need and benefit greatly from encouragement.
Encouragement is an essential, integral aspect of the Christian’s calling. The writer of Hebrews twice enjoins his readers to “encourage one another” (Heb. 3:13, 10:25)*. We are to encourage one another “as long as it is called today.” That means that if it is “today” then it is the right day to encourage someone. Encouragement is a regular, ongoing, daily exercise. Encouragement, in the context of chapter 3 of Hebrews, is a powerful means to keep our hearts soft and free from sin’s deceitfulness. In chapter 10, the readers are encouraged to encourage one another more and more as we see “the day” approaching – meaning the Day of the Lord. Encourage one another, more and more, with every day that draws us nearer to Christ’s return. That means that not only do we encourage one another daily, but that with every passing day we get better at encouragement, and that we do so more often. Daily, we should get better at leaving people better than we found them. Today is a perfect day to start.
* In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and 5:14 Paul uses similar language, urging his readers to continue encouraging one another regularly, and especially the disheartened.