The very first Christians expected to suffer.
Jesus warned them that they would flogged, hated, and persecuted because, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV) By the early second century, to be called a Christian was a pretty certain death warrant.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.” Matthew 10:16-17 (NKJV)
“You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.
Matthew 10:22-23 (NKJV)
With such persecution within the early church, it is not surprising that Jesus encouraged His followers to build each other up… as well as themselves. Their faith and conviction that Jesus Christ was/is the Son of God is what they stood on. This faith was their foundation, their all and all. It enabled them to endure horrific cruelty, persecution, and even death.
“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 20-21 (NIV)
Encouragement comes in many different packages.
Jude 20 encourages us to pray in the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we don’t know what to ask for or what to say, so the Spirit will intercede on our behalf. This is indeed a comfort and supernatural encouragement!
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26 (NKJV)
When others are down or facing a trial, we can build them up with encouraging Bible verses. This is an excellent reason to practice Scripture memorization. The Holy Spirit will bring the words back to our memory and allow us to share them with those in need.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 14:26 (NKJV)
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
According to http://blueletterbible.org , the word encourage, in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, translates to comfort, exhort, and pray for. Comfort encompasses compassion, empathy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, love, and patience, all evidence that the Fruit of the Spirit is flowing from a believer. When we build others up, we set aside our own selfishness and demonstrate God’s love.
Our personal testimony may be the encouragement someone needs. There is always hope found within stories of God’s grace and provision. Have you practiced your testimony? Do you have a 1 minute and 3-minute version?
We all have the ability to encourage others but we don’t always put this command into practice. To begin a new habit, one must plan, pray, and purpose in their heart to take the first step. It requires determination and effort.
God provides many opportunities throughout every day to serve and uplift others. I pray that your spiritual eyes of your heart are opened thus enabling you to see the needs of those around you. May the Holy Spirit prompt you into action so that the world will know Him by His love.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV)