TIME TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS
by Evangelist Paul Mershon
July 19, 2017
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Speaking recently for an independent Baptist pastor’s fellowship meeting, I had for the title of my message, “Who Ministers to Those Who Minister?” I see this as a good and valid question. Over the years in ministry, I have become more acutely aware of those servants of God who need to be encouraged and ministered to. The ministry can be a difficult and lonely calling, and those who do love and serve the people of God need to be encouraged every bit as much as those to whom they minister. The pastor cannot take his burdens and concerns to the people he shepherds, nor can he always share his burdens with his wife lest she be overly concerned with those things she would best be protected from knowing. Pastors, like everyone else, need someone they can confide in, someone with whom they can safely keep counsel, someone who will keep confidence, someone who will shed the sympathetic tear with them, and someone they can pray with who understands the burdens that a pastor often carries. To have another pastor friend who understands and who can sympathize is a good and fruitful thing. Pastors need to take time to encourage one another. If we preachers did this for one another we would find far greater strength for the journey.
In general, it is of a truth that there is no shortage of discouragement in this fallen world in which we live. The world is full of discouragers who seem to take delight in their occupation and obsession with the negative. Many are the folks who are quick to point out the failures and shortcomings of others, to criticize and find fault, but they cannot seem to find words of encouragement when they are most needed on the part of some hurting brother or sister in Christ.
“Someone has well said that discouragement is a darkroom where the negatives of fear and failure are developed. Some people are encouragers and others are discouragers. Have you ever met a discourager? They’re like a drink of water to a drowning man. They can brighten up a room by leaving it. They leave you drained and depressed. But an encourager leaves you full and refreshed. God has cornered the market on encouragement. All encouragement comes from God. You’re never more like God than when you’re encouraging people and never more like the devil than when you are discouraging people. Find a needy person and enrich him; a lonely person and include him; a misunderstood person and affirm him; an undiscovered person and develop him; a failing person and restore him.” (Adrian Rogers)
“A carnal mind evaluates situations from a human perspective. There are many examples of this in the Bible. In I Samuel 17, we have the story of David and Goliath. The Army of Israel was looking at the situation from a human perspective. They were afraid because they thought no one could fight the giant and win. They left God out of their thinking. David saw the situation through God's perspective and won the victory. Another example would be the twelve spies that Moses sent to scout the Promised Land (Numbers 13 and 14). Ten of the spies looked at things through the human perspective and discouraged the people. Due to their wrong thinking, the children of Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness. Contrast this to Joshua and Caleb who had God's perspective of the situation. God preserved them so that they were the only ones to go into the Promised Land of the twelve spies. We must change our thinking to God's perspective. We must restrict our thinking to God's perspective alone. To do this, we must know God's perspective on situations by meditating on the Word, and we must meditate until we cannot forget what we have learned, and we become a consistent doer of what we have learned.” (Linda Mershon)
“Human lives are like snowflakes. They are very delicate and transient, and each one is unique. Lying behind the individuality of each snowflake are common patterns and symmetries which many, or even all, share. Likewise, there are elements in our unique lives which are common to all of us. One of these is discouragement. Every human being has felt that disappointed, pressed down, ‘Why bother anymore?’ sensation of being discouraged . . .” (Truth for Today)
"The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well" (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
“One of the overlooked needs that people have is to be encouraged. It is often easier for us to see and identify physical needs than emotional ones. Yet in truth many people are discouraged as they face the challenges and pressures of life. Hearing a kind word of hope from someone else can make all the difference . . . In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon described the importance of having an encourager this way: ‘For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up’ (Ecclesiastes 4:10). From creation we were designed with a need for fellowship and companionship. Our world may worship the myth of the rugged individual who needs help from no one, but that is not God’s plan. He means for His children to use their words to build and strengthen each other. The person who sets out to be an encourager will never find a shortage of people to help. Even simple words spoken sincerely may make all the difference and give someone who is struggling the strength to go on. We call it encouragement, which literally means to give courage to someone who needs it. Such words are beyond value to the hurting heart that receives them.” (Paul Chappell)
I have got to say that in my life’s experience, there is a real shortage of those folks who take the time to encourage others. Many are the discouraging personalities, but few there be who consider how important it is to look beyond themselves and take the time to encourage the downcast and downhearted. Beloved, they are all around us, and few seem to take notice. But on the other hand, it seems that little effort must be expended by some to discourage rather than be a source of uplifting words that soothe and comfort.
Even leaving words of kindness and succor left unsaid can be discouraging to some sensitive souls. And do not think that discouragement comes only to the weak and spiritually immature. Some of the bravest, toughest, most spiritually-minded men recorded in the Word of God fell prey to discouragement from time-to-time. It is only pride that will not admit to times of discouragement. So it is important for God’s people to encourage one another and comfort one another with words fitly spoken rather than rub salt in the wound with a discouraging screed.
It’s easy to criticize the discouraged brother or sister in the Lord until it happens to the critic, then it’s a different story. Yes, discouragement can be a sinful response to the difficulties and hardness of life. Discouragement can be associated with discontentment with the way things have turned out in any give circumstance, or when things have not gone the way one would have hoped they would. Even then the discouraged brother or sister need encouragement along with gentle exhortation and admonition.
Think carefully about this. Some folks of the impatient and irritable sort do not suffer the discouraged very kindly. This is evidence of the grace of God not at work in their lives and the absence of the fruit of the Spirit. Failing to show some measure of pity to the discouraged child of God and speaking roughly to them in their misery is like poking them in the eye with a sharp stick. Folks like this haven’t learned much. Surely they have not learned much about the sweet spirit of Jesus. What we need amongst God’s people today are more Barnabas’s (“the son of consolation”) who have a heart for others, coming alongside the discouraged with a word of hope and encouragement.
No doubt discouragement can be a negative and sinful reaction to the difficulties of life. It can also be part-and-parcel to refusing to accept God’s will in any given matter. But it is good to remember that the better part of wisdom and godly compassion is to endeavor to lead the discouraged brother or sister in the Lord away from self-pity and defeat.
Friends, it is entirely possible for a child of God to exhort, admonish, correct, instruct, and even rebuke in a loving and considerate manner whereby the recipient of exhortation, admonishment, correction, instruction, and even rebuke, is not left in a smoking heap of discouragement. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We can be definite and firm in making our point clear without crushing the recipient of our point with much discouragement. With every negative there must always be a positive. There is a positive Bible answer for every negative situation in life, and we must give those we counsel the benefit of an encouraging answer that will, if adhered to, produce positive results.
“Discouragers go about among men, and, by their gloomy, pessimistic words—they make life incalculably harder for them. They put out the lamps of cheer and hope which shine in men's homes. They quench the very stars that burn in the sky above men's heads. They take the gladness out of hearts. They see only the dark shadows of life, never the sunshine; and they prate wherever they go of gloom and doom. They never bring us a message of cheer. We are never stronger, braver, happier, or truer—for meeting them.” (Copied)