I don’t know if you have any New Year’s resolutions, but one good goal we could all have in 2020 is to take every opportunity to encourage other people. I’m convinced that one of our greatest needs is to be encouraged. As John Maxwell pointed out, “Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.” So, today I’d like to share some important points about encouragement to take with you into the new year.
The Bible holds an interesting account in the book of Acts about a time when Paul and Silas were released from jail after they had been wrongly imprisoned for preaching the Gospel in the city of Philippi. Before they left town, they visited the home of a believer named Lydia. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about their visit, but it does mention one important point.
“So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed” (Acts 16:40, NKJV). I think it’s interesting that of all the things that may have transpired in that home, the writer chooses to tell how Paul and Silas took the opportunity to encourage the believers there. When I read this, it’s a reminder to me that I need to take every opportunity to encourage others as I go through my life.
One point we should always remember is that everyone needs encouragement. Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy once famously remarked, “How do you identify someone who needs encouragement? That person is breathing.” I believe he’s right. Everyone we encounter on a daily basis could stand some encouragement!
The apostle Paul taught, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). In other words, Paul was saying even though you’re already encouraging each other, KEEP building each other up. People need encouragement every day, so don’t ever stop. As long as you are genuine, I don’t think you could ever encourage someone too much. Let encouragement be a continual ministry.
You see, it’s easy to get discouraged when we face challenges, make mistakes, come under pressure, or experience disappointments. It takes work to stay encouraged. That’s why we need to be careful not to allow ourselves to sink into a state of discouragement, and we should be watchful for others as well. “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT). Indeed, we need each other!
One of the most significant truths about encouragement is that it lasts. Looking back at the passage from Acts, it’s interesting that the verse ends by saying “they encouraged them and departed.” You see, encouragement keeps working even after you leave. If someone has given you a meaningful word of encouragement, you probably still remember it even if it was offered years ago. I know I cherish many messages of encouragement people have offered me. When you take the time to say or write a word of encouragement, you never know the impact that could have in another person’s life.
Finally, have you ever noticed that when you share encouragement with someone else, you feel more encouraged yourself? So, if you want to keep yourself encouraged, take time to encourage others this year. You’ll be glad you did.