Would you agree that good friends often extend a word of encouragement to each other? For example, Piglet asked his friend, Winnie-the-Pooh, “Supposing a tree fell down when we were underneath it?” After careful thought, Pooh answered, “Supposing it didn’t.” It was just the word of comfort that Piglet needed. It gave Piglet the courage to go on without that imaginary anxiety. There are times when we need empathy and hope or reassurance, but there are other times when we need a reality check, some truthful insight, or an explanation. Knowing that someone believes in you, appreciates your efforts or abilities, or can help you explore new opportunities can radically influence your future. Encouragement often comes verbally, but it can also be a hand on the shoulder, a smile, a gentle nod of the head or even an attentive and listening ear. Sometimes it is simply giving real help to finish a job, bringing a meal or a treat, or choosing to give up your own agenda in exchange for someone else’s needs or desires.
Both John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, and Paul, the missionary and teacher, visited with and wrote letters to new believers in various locations in order to encourage them. They found wonderful ways to not only instruct their friends, but to give them words of support, hope and inspiration so that they would continue on the right path as they learned more about what it meant to “walk in the light” and to “walk as Jesus did” – I John 1: 7 and 2: 6. They also wanted their readers to know that part of the joy of fellowship with each other as children of God was their privilege to also be encouragers to one another – to find ways to “love each other not only with words but with their actions.”
Who would you say has been a great encourager to you? What are the things they said or did that makes you feel that way about them? Perhaps the more difficult question that comes to mind is also, who needs your encouragement right now? What could you say or do for someone in your family, a friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger that would give them the courage they need to move forward or to “head in the right direction”?