Summary: Encouragement is vital for our survival - through it we help others to love and good works. It's the responsibility of every believer to encourage and it's an urgent need because there is more and more of a need of encouragement in this evil days.
In 1995 twin girls Kyrie and Brielle were born prematurely. Weighing only 2 pounds each, they were watched over very carefully each in their respective incubators. Kyrie began putting on weight immediately, but Brielle struggled - she cried and cried leaving her gasping and blue faced. They wrapped her in blankets, mother held her, father held her. Nothing they did seemed to help. Finally, a hospital nurse fought against the rules and placed the babies in one incubator. When they were placed together, the healthier of the two threw an arm over her sister in an endearing embrace. Almost immediately the frantic crying stopped and Brielle’s normal pinkish color returned. Her heart rate stabilized and her temperature rose to normal. This is a true story revealing that encouragement is a matter of life and death.
Not everyone believes encouragement is so important but as we look into the Scripture this morning, we will see that it truly is vital for our life as much as it was for this little baby.
This morning as we look at Hebrews we find a short passage of Scripture that is able to answer a number of our questions about encouragement and lead us to be people who encourage instead of criticize or discourage others.
The first question is this: What is encouragement?
The answer is found in verse 24: “stir one another to love and good works.” Encouragement is “stirring people up.” Now often that’s a negative idiom. We might think of stirring someone up as getting someone worked up so that they get angry and tell someone off. You think of leaders of revolutionary movements that stir up the emotions so that people will revolt. The NIV uses the phrase: “spur one another.” That too is kind of negative – a rider digging his spurs into the side of the horse so that he will run.
The word actually means to sharpen, to stimulate, to motivate someone. It’s not meant to be painful at all but just the opposite – it instills in you desire to get moving ahead.
Therefore, encouragement is stimulating someone, motivating someone who is discouraged to do something. What is that something? “love and good works.” When we are discouraged, we feel we’re in a pit. We feel we have failed or cannot succeed. Doing anything seems useless. This attitude becomes a focus on self and on failure. It’s a black hole with no way out.
Encouragement is the word or the action – some kind of communication - by someone else that helps us get our eyes off of ourselves and onto the Lord. Encouragement gets us out of the pit and back in service.
Question 2: Who should encourage? Every single believer!
Look back at Hebrews 10 verse 19. It says there: “Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus….” He’s talking about the privilege that every one of us has since we trust in Jesus blood which covers all our sins and gives us access to the throne of God the Father. Since we have that kind of access to God’s power, use that access to (1) “draw near in full assurance of faith” (vs. 22) and let us (2) “hold fast our confession” (vs. 23) and finally let us (3) “consider how to stir one another…”
Do you see what he is saying here? One of the awesome privileges of having access to the throne of God the Father is that we can encourage each other. We have the special power, the resources of God’s Spirit at our disposal. He uses our words and actions with power to lift up those who are downhearted and those who have fallen. We can restore our brothers and sisters to the blessed fellowship with God!
God may put someone on your mind to pray for, to talk to, to help. That’s the supernatural equipping of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prompts us to encourage in order to help those in need. Many times we simply ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit with such excuses as: “It’s none of my business. What will they think? I’m better off just keeping quiet.” But then we miss out on blessing someone and being blessed as we see God using us. One little sentence prompted by the Holy Spirit can change someone’s whole day or even week. It can literally save someone’s life!
Encouragement isn’t just something we might want to do from time to time. It’s not just for extra gifted Christians. It’s for every one of us who live for Jesus Christ. We are to be always seeking ways to lift up those around us with our words and actions so that they’re back on track.
Restoring someone who is hurting is not their own responsibility. We might think it’s none of our business. But that is not what this says here. Encouragement is our God given privilege and a vital need for that person that is hurting.