Summary: This is an updated (2019) treatment of a message previously submitted that I think better covers the subject of encouragement.
Sylvan Way Baptist Church
August 4, 2019
Pastor David Welch
“The Art of Encouragement”
The number of times something appears in Scripture often indicates importance. Today I want to direct our attention to a topic that at least makes the top ten. I think it is a crucial key to a healthy church. Most of you could complete the lyrics of this old song. “Where seldom was heard….”
Today’s culture broadcasts plenty of discouraging words. Today’s environment generates abundant discouraging circumstances. Most people struggle with some degree of discouragement. The attempt to treat depression generates billions of dollars each year. The dictionary defines discouragement as a feeling of having lost hope or confidence. We have all experienced those feelings at some time in our life. They range from slight to severe; light to heavy. Other terms employed to describe varying levels of this feeling include depression, dismay, despair, hopelessness, disappointment, gloominess, disheartened, downcast, dejected, melancholy.
The cause varies from other people’s discouraging words and actions to the events and circumstances generated by a broken world. Whatever the source, it robs us of enthusiasm for life. It sucks the air out of our soul.
It supplants courage with fear and generates feelings of despair that can paralyze any forward progress in our life. Everyone desires and appreciates en-couragement. Rather than losing courage i.e. dis-courage. We need someone or something to en-courage; restore our hope, revitalize our enthusiasm for life, invigorate our diminishing strength.
The Bible clearly and often addresses this powerful antidote to discouragement. It is a massive subject that could occupy multiple messages. Given the multiple causes for discouragement in our world, encouragement is a critical component to survival and a critical element of church health.
Our own thinking causes discouragement.
Words of others cause discouragement.
World events cause discouragement.
Personal limitations and failures cause discouragement.
Personal and family circumstances cause discouragement.
EXPLORATION OF 2 CORINTHIANS 2:3-7
Most translations interpret the Greek term under consideration with “comfort”.
I prefer the word “encouragement” which I will share why in a moment.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in all our affliction so that we will be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our encouragement is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; or if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our encouragement.
The Greek term comes from a combination of the verb “to call” and the preposition “beside”. It is variously translated in our English Bibles urge, beg, comfort, exhort, encourage, advocate, counsel, help, ask. It communicates the idea of urging or imploring someone to do the right thing. It was used to describe a pleading for help. It describes coming alongside another with positive words. It describes someone coming alongside not just to console but to strengthen. It references someone sent to advocate on our behalf; like a lawyer.
The noun and verb form appear nearly 150 times in the New Testament. God does it. People practice it. God commands the church to practice it toward one another. Jesus does it. It is a key ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the name Jesus refers to Him when a promise another “encourager.”
Other terms like inspire, motivate or influence capture the sentiment of the term.
In our passage, Paul blessed God for His encouragement but recognized that God often directs people to encourage us. Here is the main take away from this passage regarding encouragement. God’s merciful encouragement in life’s struggle is not intended to stop with us. God encourages us so that we might encourage others.
INSIGHTS FROM 2 CORINTHIANS 1
• God’s encouragement flows out of God’s mercy.
• God’s encouragement addresses ALL our troubles.
• God’s encouragement enables us to encourage others who face affliction.
• God’s encouragement mirrors our suffering.
• Our encouragement comes because of our connection with Christ.
• God’s encouragement is others-centered.
• Encouraging others energizes endurance in others.
• God’s encouragement inspires hope.
Paul knew something about struggle.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. 2 Cor 1:8-11