It was a beautiful morning in 1976 as I waited anxiously outside the Chapel watching for the arrival of a young girl from the Sunday School class I taught. Only a week earlier, she had prayed earnestly that Jesus would heal her Grandpa who was terminally ill. Her Grandparents were like parents to her because she’d lived with them since she was three months old. My heart was breaking because Grandpa had died during the week and I was afraid her beautiful childlike faith may have been shattered. I guess my face must have shown my sorrow because the moment she saw me, she ran and hugged me saying, “Please don’t cry. Jesus has taken my Grandpa to where He is, and now Grandpa has a brand new body that will never hurt him again.”
That day an eight year old girl raised my shallow adult gaze to see eternity with Jesus. I was encouraged beyond words. I’ve recounted this memory because it gives a perfect example of true biblical encouragement which always seeks to teach and build one another up. This may come through a beautiful experience such as I encountered that day, or it could come through discipline, guidance or correction. However, the purpose is always to build one another up toward the full stature of Christ.
Let us look at the root word used in the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts:
· chazaq (Hebrew transliteration) = to be or to grow firm or strong. To strengthen.
· parakaleó (Greek) = to exhort, implore, beseech, admonish, build up.
Biblical encouragement gives us what we need to hear as opposed to what we may want to hear. It teaches full Scriptural truth, guiding, admonishing and building one another up with all love, grace and wisdom. The Apostle Paul gives good teaching throughout his epistles. When necessary he was not afraid to confront those who needed correction. See 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
When helping one another to grow, our plumb line must always be Scripture, and we should never confuse biblical encouragement with today’s understanding and use of the word “encouragement”, which most often amounts to compliments and flattery that can lead to vanity. See 1 Peter 3:3-4
Scripture holds many examples of Biblical Encouragement but one of the best is to be found in Romans 15:1-7 where Paul sums it up perfectly. May we always be open to encourage and receive encouragement from one another with the sole purpose of building one another up until we attain the full measure of the stature of Christ, our One and only perfect example – the One who is the greatest Biblical Encourager of all time.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are my greatest Encouragement. May I be constantly open to the teaching in Your Word, guided by Holy Spirit, and always ready to encourage or be encouraged by fellow believers along the way. Thank You for constantly interceding before the Father on our behalf. We are blessed beyond measure. Amen
2 Corinthians 7:8-10
1 Peter 3:3-4