Few things steal a church’s joy like discouragement…especially if that discouragement comes not from outside circumstances but from inside instigators. Scripture tells us that we are to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). But far too often we choose instead to speak words that dishearten, hinder, and deter each other from living the life God intends.
Life is all about growing and learning. And it’s in the day-to-day living that we learn how to forgive, how to handle disappointment, and admit failure. It’s in the day-to-day struggles that we mature.
We’ve all heard the old spiritual “It’s me, O Lord, Standin’ in the need of prayer.” But how many of us live this way? Judging others is a job best left to God. He alone knows our hearts and our motives; He alone is qualified to judge.
You never really know who is in need of encouragement. Encouragement spurs us on; affirms us. A word of kindness, an arm around the shoulder, a note, a phone call, a random comment said in passing... genuine encouragement never fails to help.
All of us need encouragement. We need somebody to believe in us. To reassure and reinforce us. To help us pick up the pieces and go on. To fuel our flame of determination as we face the odds against us.
When I think back to my years in university, I can’t justify church-skipping any more than I can defend missing class. I had a million excuses though. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t like the music, it was too far, etcetera.
We can practice fellowship by seeing and getting in touch with the big picture and goal of showing God’s glory to the world. We do this in all the many ways He has instructed us in the Bible.
The family of God is not a place for verbal putdowns, sarcastic jabs, critical comment, and harsh judgments. We get enough of that from the world. This is a place we need to assemble for the purpose of being encouraged.
In this lesson, we will learn that encouragement is not the responsibility of a gifted few but the responsibility of the entire family of God. That means you.