Trillia Newbell – Invest in encouragement

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Monday, February 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentary now from WORLD’s Trillia Newbell.

TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: Recently retired pastor Ray Ortlund is a friend of mine, and something he wrote online caught my attention. He said—quote—“No one you meet today, or any day, will be suffering from over-encouragement.”

My immediate response was to shout out yes and amen! Our temptation is to believe that everyone around us is doing much better than we are. Or maybe our perception of strength is because we tend to lack real vulnerability with those around us. 

Just think about the way we greet one another: 

“How are you?” 

“Fine, thank you.” 

Only once has someone, after I’ve asked that question, looked me in the eye and told me she wasn’t fine. At that moment I realized how easy it is to ask but not truly care about the answer. I paused, looked back at her, and listened. I was convicted.  

But the reality is that most of us—whether on a good day or not—still need encouragement. And sometimes it’s hard for us to admit it. I believe the best assumption we can make is that everyone needs encouragement—and sometimes desperately so! 

Indeed no one, truly no one you meet today, or any day, will be suffering from “over-encouragement.”

And God designed the church to be an encouragement machine. Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (5:11). 

The language in this text is one of urgency. The Lord is returning and although we don’t know when, we need strength to endure as we wait. We need grace and power to obey His word in this broken world. Part of enduring and helping one another is through speaking words that build up rather than tear down.

Without the kind encouragement of my friends, my church, my pastors, my husband, and my co-laborers, I think I’d have given up on much of what I do. There is a reenergizing and faith-building effect of encouragement. 

And I’m not talking about a passing word from a friend like, “You look nice today.” Although that’s delightful, we need words that can help sustain us. I’m thinking of specific, direct, detailed encouragement. Encouragement that is pointed and gracious. 

Encouragement points out the ways God is moving in the lives of others. Thus encouragement points others toward God. Encouragement isn’t about us, and it really isn’t about the person receiving it either. Rather, it’s about the Lord and His grace at work in their life. 

Encouragement guards us from sinful comparison and envy, too. When we recognize the gifts God has given someone—whether it is creative, administrative, leadership, or fruits of the Spirit—we are waging war against envy and jealousy. 

We can thank God for those who have gifts different than ours. We can thank God for the way he has made our brothers and sisters.  

And when we do, we’re heeding the call of Hebrews 10:24—spurring one another on toward love and good works. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Trillia Newbell.

(Photo/Creative Commons, Flickr)

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