Category: What is the gift of encouragement?

No matter what our discouraging situation, there are encouraging verses in the  Bible that can give us hope:

When you’ve lost something, or someone,  who has been very precious to you:
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Revelation 1:18 “I am  alive forevermore.”
John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me  will live, even though he dies’”

When excruciating waves of chronic  pain and weakness are crashing over your head:
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Hebrews  4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we  may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

When your cupboard is bare, and your last crumb has been scraped up: 
Matthew  6:33 “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things  will be added to you.”
Psalm 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”
1 Thessalonians  5:18 “… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in  Christ Jesus.”

When no one seems to understand, or even to care: 
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the  righteous fall.”
Isaiah  40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms  and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

When you are being persecuted for your faith:
2 Peter 2:9 “the Lord knows  how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of  judgment.”
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

When  the nation, the world, and even the family and the church, seem to be  disintegrating:
Isaiah  14:24: “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so  it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand.’”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I  know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not  to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When life’s fears  and insecurities gang up on you:
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the  stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
Luke 12:7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all  numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Romans 8:1 “There is, therefore, no condemnation to those  who are in Christ Jesus.”

When your mood is dark:
Psalm 118:24 “This is the  day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, and be glad in it.”
Romans 8:29-30 “For those  whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his  Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he called, he  also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

When worn out  and worn down to the point of giving up:
Hebrews  12:2-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and completer of our faith,  who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat  down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such  opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

When abandoned by everyone meaningful:
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be  strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the  LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 “… God has  said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ So we say with  confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to  me?’”

When friends and even family seem to be abandoning God: 
Psalm 100:5 “God’s faithfulness endures through all generations.”
2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But  mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers  of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their  parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without  self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited,  lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”

When under powerful  temptation:
1  Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to  man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can  bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can  stand up under it.”
James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and He will near to you.”
2 Timothy  1:12 “He is able to keep what I committed to Him against that day.”
Hebrews 2:18 “Because He  Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being  tempted.”

When stung by your enemy’s false accusation:
1 Peter 3:14, 16 “But even if you should  suffer for what is right, you are blessed. … keeping a clear conscience, so that  those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed  of their slander.”
Matthew  5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for  theirs in the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you,  persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, because great is your reward in heaven”
Romans 8:31-34 “What,  then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not  also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge  against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that  condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at  the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

When  circumstances lead you to doubt God:
Psalm 42:5 “O  my soul, why are you downcast? Put your hope in God: for I will yet praise Him,  my Savior and my God.”
Mark 9:24 “I  do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When gripped by  unrelenting anger and even hatred:
Ephesians  4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along  with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving  each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
James 1:19 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow  to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the  righteous life that God desires.”
1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone  who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has  not seen.”

When defeated with guilt, shame, and remorse:
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our  sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all  unrighteousness.”
Romans  8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ  Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free  from the law of sin and death.”

When about to go over the edge with  overwhelming demands, pressures, and expectations:
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto  me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
John 15:5 [Jesus said] “I am  the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will  bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can  do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

When the road forks  unexpectedly, or when the multiplied factors of a crucial decision bring  darkening confusion:
James 1:5 “If  any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without  finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
1  Corinthians 14:33 “God is not the author of confusion.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in  the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your  ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.”

When you are  famished of soul, longing for purity and righteousness:
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for  righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Psalm 23:3 “He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.”

When  all roads have been cut off so that only despair seems left:
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful;  he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are  tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
2  Corinthians 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;  perplexed, but not in despair.”

When the grave opens before you: 
John 3:16 “For  God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes  in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John  11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will  live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Hebrews  2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their  humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of  death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery  by their fear of death.”

A blessing for all circumstances:
Romans 15:13  “May the God  of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may  overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called  Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” Hebrews 3:13 tells us. First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one  another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Throughout  Scripture we see instructions to encourage one another and verses that are meant  to encourage us. Why is encouragement emphasized in Scripture? Primarily because  encouragement is necessary to our walk of faith.

Jesus told His  followers, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome  the world” (John  16:33b). Jesus did not shy from telling His followers about the troubles  they would face. In fact, He told them the world would hate them (John 15:18-21; see also Matthew  10:22-23 and 2  Corinthians 2:15-16). But Jesus’ grim forecast was tempered with cheer; He  followed His prediction of trouble with a sparkling word of encouragement: He  has overcome the world. Jesus is greater than any trouble we face.

Without encouragement, hardship becomes meaningless, and our will to go on  wanes. The prophet Elijah struggled with discouragement (1 Kings 19:3-10), and so  do we. It is important to remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and  blood, but against . . . the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual  forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians  6:12). This truth makes encouragement all the more important. It is not just  that we face the world’s displeasure; we are caught in the crosshairs of a  spiritual battle. When we are encouraged in Christ, we have strength to put on  our spiritual armor and remain steadfast (see Ephesians  6:10-18).

Even in places where Christians do not experience overt  persecution or hatred, we all know that life can be difficult. Discouragement is  not an uncommon human experience. At times, recognizing that there is meaning in  the seemingly inconsequential things we do seems next to impossible. We may want  to give up. Yet He who calls us is faithful, and He gives us the power to be  faithful, too (1  Corinthians 1:9).

A man in the early church named Joseph was given  the nickname “Barnabas,” which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). What a blessing Barnabas was to the believers  of his day! Through the encouragement of Barnabas, the apostle Paul was first  accepted by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 9:27).  Through the encouragement of Barnabas, Mark was given a second chance after an  abject failure (Acts 13:1315:39).

Encouragement  makes it easier to live in a fallen world in a holy way. Encouragement makes it  easier to love as Jesus loved (see John  13:34-35). Encouragement gives hope (Romans  15:4). Encouragement helps us through times of discipline and testing (Hebrews 12:5).  Encouragement nurtures patience and kindness (see 1  Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians  5:22-26). Encouragement makes it easier to sacrifice our own desires for the  advancement of God’s kingdom. In short, encouragement makes it easier to live  the Christian life.

Without encouragement, life would soon feel  pointless and burdensome. Without encouragement, we can be overwhelmed by the  very real pains of our lives. Without encouragement, we feel unloved. Without  encouragement, we begin to think that God is a liar or is unconcerned with our  welfare. So, the Bible tells us to encourage one another, to remind each other  of the truth that God loves us, that God equips us, that we are treasured, that  our struggles are worth it.

Encouragement gives us the will to carry on.  It is a glimpse of the bigger picture. It can prevent burn-out. It can save us  from believing lies (“sin’s deceitfulness”). Encouragement helps us experience  abundant life (see John  10:10).

Proverbs  16:24 says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing  to the bones.” God’s Word is full of encouragement. Pleasant words, indeed.

The gift of encouragement or exhortation is found in Paul’s list of gifts in Romans 12:7-8. The word  translated “encourage” or “exhortation” is the Greek word paracletos”, or  “paraclete” which basically means “to call to one’s side.”

Paracletos” can have several meanings, including exhort, urge,  encourage, and comfort. All of these make up the gift of encouragement. For  example, Paul often urged and exhorted his readers to act on something he wrote.  A good example is Romans  12:1-2, where Paul urges the Romans to present their bodies to God as living  sacrifices. By doing this, they would know and understand God’s will.

Interestingly, when Jesus spoke to His disciples in the upper room, He spoke of  the Holy Spirit, as “Helper,” or “Comforter” (John 14:1626, 15:26), which is why the Holy Spirit is referred to as  the Paraclete. The ministry of the Holy Spirit was important to Jesus and to us.  A person with the gift of encouragement can use this gift in both a public and a  private setting. It can be seen in counseling, discipleship, mentoring and  preaching. The body of Christ is built up in faith as a result the ministry of  those with the gift of encouragement.

The gift of encouragement differs  from the gift of teaching in that it focuses on the practical aspects of the  Bible. Whereas one with the gift of teaching focuses on meaning and content of  the word, along with accuracy and application, one with the gift of  encouragement focuses on the practical application of the Word. He or she can  relate to others, both in groups and individually, by understanding their needs  and sympathizing with them. This person can help another person move from  pessimism to optimism.

Probably the best example of one with the gift of  encouragement is Barnabas who is described as “the son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). We see Barnabas in  Acts 13:43 encouraging the  believers to continue in the grace of God. In Acts  15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over John Mark’s involvement  in their ministry. John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia. Barnabas was  desirous of taking him with them, but Paul was not. While we do not know the  exact words spoken, it seems very likely that Barnabas believed John Mark had  potential in ministry and he encouraged Paul to give him a second chance. Paul  and Barnabas separated, John Mark going with Barnabas, but we see later that  John Mark proved himself faithful, no doubt through Barnabas and his gift of  encouragement (2 Timothy  4:11). This is the result of the gift of encouragement; others are helped  and become more effective for Christ.