Thesis: Encouragement is believing the best about someone.
1. As Christians, we need all the encouragement we can get!
a. We need encouragement because it's easy to become discouraged! (Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:58).
b. That's one reason God places us in churches.
2. Encouragement is a dominant theme in the epistles.
a. Paul obsessed with building up local churches.
1) Realized only so much he could do.
2) Part of strategy was to transfer this concern to others (Col. 2:1-2; 4:7-8).
b. You & I are commanded to encourage one another (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11; Heb. 3:13; 10:25).
1) What is encouragement?
2) What does encouragement look like?
I. WHAT IS ENCOURAGEMENT?
A. Not something you can say to just anyone; something special.
1. Encouragement in the Christian sense is not:
a. "I love the dress you're wearing today."
b. "You played a good game Friday night."
c. "Your children are very well-behaved."
2. These are things you could say to anyone if it was true about them.
B. We come closer to understanding what encouragment is when we realize how closely WOG is assoc. with encouragment in NT.
1. Acts 20:32 ...... "Word of his grace--able to build you up."
2. Eph. 4:14-16 .... "Speaking truth in love" builds up body.
3. 1 Ths. 2:11-12 .. How did Paul do these things? (v. 13!)
4. Acts 14:21-22 ... Encouragement is to help someone "remain true to the faith."
II. WHAT DOES ENCOURAGEMENT LOOK LIKE?
A. Barnabas--his very name means encouragement! (Acts 4:36).
1. Barnabas shows us the essence of encouragement:
a. Saul of Tarsus after conversion (Acts 9:26-27).
b. John Mark after 1st journey (Acts 15:36-40).
2. Essence of encouragement: believing the best about someone or a group of someones!
a. Illust. Example of Clifton Inman & young preachers.
b. Encouragement involves magnifying/celebrating good; de-emphasizing/minimizing what is less than good.
B. Churches, like people, need encouragement.
1. It's always easier to tear things down than it is to build things up.
a. Dominoes ..... easier to knock down than set up.
b. Meal ......... easier to burn than cook properly.
c. Flowers ...... easier to cut than to cultivate.
2. Easier to focus on what's wrong with a church than to focus on what's right.
a. It's easy to:
1) Wonder why "so & so" doesn't do "such & such."
2) React to the pro-active work of others.
3) Stand back & declare: "What this church needs is `thus & so' and `this and that'!"
b. Anybody can tell you what's wrong with someone or something--it takes somebody special to believe the best and to build others up.
1. Close with the following poem.
I watched them tear a building down;
A band of men in a busy town.
With a `HO-HEAVE-HO' and a lusty yell;
They swung a beam and a sidewalk fell.
I asked the foreman, `Are these men skilled?
And the men you'd hire if you had to build?'
He gave a laugh and said, `No indeed!
Common labor is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two,
What builders have taken a year to do.'
And I thought to myself as I went on my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care?
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down?