My sister-in-law sent me this Hallmark card for my birthday:
Mary is my kind of person. I’ll bet she’s your kind, too. We tend to appreciate positive people, especially since negative input seems to bombard us continually. We’re not thin enough, smart enough, tech-savvy enough, confident enough, spiritual enough, disciplined enough, efficient enough, successful enough, patient enough, persevering enough, ad nauseam.
Positive people neutralize the impact of all that negativity. It’s not just their pleasant company that brings uplift to our spirits; they often exhibit the gift of encouragement.
That gift includes the ability to:
- relate to others in positive ways
- be optimistic, and cheerful
- listen attentively and make others feel understood
- be patient and generous with their time
- make others feel special
- genuinely celebrate the successes of others
But there’s one more behavior to add to that list, and it’s undoubtedly the most important. Beyond uplifting and motivating, we can infuse others with our faith.
Anyone can offer encouragement; only people of faith can offer faith.
You see, encouragement may not necessarily be based on fact. For example:
- A mom says to her son, “You’re a fantastic soccer player. Of course you’ll make the team.” Only he doesn’t. Mom’s optimism wasn’t based in reality.
- “After what you’ve told me, I just know you’ll get the job,” says one friend to another. But it doesn’t happen. The friend listened and understood, but her intuition proved false.
- “Oh, that solo was wonderful, Katie!” when it clearly wasn’t.
However, statements of faith based on scriptural fact provide absolute truth and a much stronger foundation for hope than empty praise.
(“Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” — Romans 15:4).
Everyone needs hope, especially those in crisis.
Centuries ago, the people of Jerusalem needed hope as they faced the possibility of annihilation by the Assyrian army. King Hezekiah gathered the people in the open square of the city gate and addressed them:
“Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or discouraged
because of the king of Assyria
and the vast army with him,
for there is a greater power with us than with him.
With him is only the arm of the flesh,
but with us is the Lord our God
to help us and to fight our battles.”
–2 Chronicles 32:7-8
Hezekiah was not simply offering optimistic encouragement. Those bold statements were based on earlier scriptures, some of which you may recognize:
- “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
- “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).
- “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (spoken by David to Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:45).
- “Do you have an arm like God’s” (Job 40:9a)?
- “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).
You and I can follow King Hezekiah’s example and share the positive, factual truth of God’s Word. We can be the encouraging voices that help others thrive, especially to those whose faith is beginning to falter.
The scripture-seeds we plant may spur a person to persevere or take a step in a new direction. And who knows where that perseverance or step might lead?
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What scripture truth has been an encouragement to you? Share with us in the Comments section below. Perhaps your contribution will be just what someone else needs to hear/see!