Summary: We can encourage others through our example, presence, and words.
A. The story is told of a man who opened his front door one morning to get his newspaper and was surprised to see a strange dog with his newspaper in his mouth.
1. Delighted with his unexpected “delivery service,” the man gave the dog a treat.
2. The following morning the man opened his door to get his newspaper, and was horrified to see the same dog wagging his tail sitting on a pile of newspapers.
3. The man spent the rest of the morning returning the papers to their owners. (Reader’s Digest, 1994)
B. Usually there is no danger in being an encourager.
1. Most people are more naturally discouragers than encouragers.
2. Like the story of the preacher who was leaving his church.
a. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage one of the pillar members of the church.
b. He said to the older woman, “Don’t be sad at my leaving. The next preacher might be better than me.”
c. She replied, “That’s what they said last time, but it keeps getting worse.” (John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, p. 159)
C. Keith Miller, in his book Passionate People, which he co-authored with Bruce Larson, describes two kinds of people – “basement people” and “balcony people.”
1. “Basement people” are the discouragers in our lives.
2. They may be people from our past, or present, but their words go with us everywhere we go.
3. They are the negative influences in our lives and their words go something like this:
a. “You can’t do that.” “That’s a stupid thing to do.” “When are you going to get it right?” “You will never get it right.” “You will never amount to anything.”
4. Basement people divert us from our hopes and dreams.
5. They constantly point out what is wrong, rather than what is right with us.
6. Basement people cause a room to light us when they leave.
D. In contrast to them are the “Balcony People.”
1. They are people who are full of love and cheer us on.
2. They encourage us to be loving, courageous followers of Christ.
3. They sit in the balcony of our lives like a heavenly cheering section, saying, “You can do it.” “We believe in you.” “You are special to us.”
4. Balcony people are the great encouragers in our lives and we all need them!
E. The question for all of us is who will we be? Will we be basement people or balcony people?
1. The choice is ours to make.
2. Balcony people try to lift people up to where they are, but basement people try to drag people down where they are.
3. There is no question who God wants us to be.
4. He wants us to be balcony people, and He will help us to be balcony people.
I. What Is Encouragement?
A. The dictionary definition of encourage is “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; to attempt to persuade; to spur on; to give help.
1. A simplistic definition that I have always worked from is “to encourage is to put courage into.”
2. The Greek word that our English word comes from is rich with meaning.
3. Parakaleo – literally means “to call alongside.” It is sometimes translated “comfort, consolation, encouragement or exhortation.”
4. The Holy Spirit is called our Paracletos our “Comforter.”
B. Encouragement in the Greek is an active word.
1. It means to come along side someone, to come to someone’s aid, or to exhort or urge someone on.
2. It implies more than just cheerleading.
3. It implies that a person is actively involved in helping another find the courage that he or she needs to continue on.
C. It is not surprising that this admonition to encourage is found in the Hebrew letter.
1. Our Scripture reading for today included Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
2. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
3. The Christian audience to whom this letter was written had been through a lot of very discouraging things.
4. They had suffered persecution because of their faith in Christ and some were becoming weary and others were abandoning their faith.
5. Therefore the Hebrew writer commanded them to continue to meet together and to encourage each other daily.
II. What Are Some Biblical Examples of Encouragement?
A. Perhaps the first example of an encourager in the Bible is Jonathan, son of King Saul.
1. David, you remember, had to flee from King Saul, because the king was jealous of David and was attempting to kill him.