Part of my daily routine is to read a scripture-based devotional as a means of staying grounded in my faith. I wish I could say I am 100% faithful, but the effort is there none the less. Recently, I finished a devotion authored by Dan Britton and Jimmy Page titled, Called to Greatness: A Devotion to Ignite the Faith of Fathers and Sons. One of the daily devotions discussed people in our lives that can be classified as “Drainers” or “Refreshers.” Drainers “exhibit repetitive negative, pessimistic, complaining, and “life sucking” behaviors. They criticize, complain, whine, make excuses and find faults. Their words are laced with destruction, and they spew their poison on anyone who dares to listen.” Refreshers on the other hand are, “faith-filled, positive, right-living, energized” people who speak words of life. They help fill you emotionally, relationally, and spiritually by breathing encouragement, blessing, and hope into your life. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a Refresher to all those I interact with. I want to take a moment and talk about encouragement and how we can encourage those around us.
In talking about encouragement, what are we saying? First, look at the root word – courage. Dictionary.com defines “courage” as noun and is a personal characteristic exhibited by, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Likewise, to encourage is to take the noun, courage, and turn into action by “inspiring with courage, spirit, or hope.” Second, consider the biblical breakdown of encouragement. Strong’s states the Greek word for encouragement is “parakaleō” and is the combination of two words; “para” and “kaleō.” Para means “to walk along side” and Kaleō means, “to admonish, exhort, strengthen.” So, an encourager, a Refresher, is someone who walks beside someone else speaking inspiration and hope into the life of someone who may need help persevering the moment.
Being an encourager sounds like a difficult task doesn’t it? Why would someone want to step into that role? Outside of the fact we live in a tough world and need encouragement; for the Christian, it is a command. The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Timothy 5:11). Likewise, the writer of Hebrews instructs the Jesus follower, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) Interestingly, the biblical term “edification” is very similar to encourage. To edify someone is to build them up. It is a construction term giving the picture of laying bricks on top of each other. The words we speak can build people up and act as bricks of encouragement. Being an encouragement to others is something we should all strive to do; not as a command, but as a desire.
Unfortunately, a person’s perspective may hinder them from being an encouragement. How do you see yourself when you look in the mirror? In the book,Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters, John Maxwell shares that 80% of people “focus on what they have failed at instead of what they have failed to do.” The focus is on their failure rather than their future. Either by design or by default, you either see the world as half full or half empty. It is impossible to encourage someone else unless you are able to encourage yourself first! How can you speak life, hope, and inspiration into someone else unless you first speak it into yours? The truth is, the same God that created the universe is the same God that created you and I, and we are created in His image. He loves you and he calls you His friend. When you see your reflection, see yourself through the eyes of your Creator and be encouraged.
How you see others is as vitally important as you see yourself. When you see others, how do you see them? Do you see them through the eyes of God as well? Do you understand God loves them as much as He loves you? The Bible say in Romans 2:11, “There is no partiality with God,” and Galatians 2:6, “But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) – well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.” God sees the sinner and the saint and loves them both. To be an encourager to others we need to possess the same vision. This is a tough nut for me to crack; especially when I interact with people that I don’t care for, but I’m trying. At least I have the right perspective.
Now that we know what encouragement is and why we should do it, how do we do it? Encouragement can be broken down into words and actions. We all know the nursery rhyme, Sticks and Stones. The nursery rhyme is a lie because words certainly can hurt you. You may not think so, but there is true power in the spoken word. The writer of Proverbs 18:21 states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” James, the brother of Jesus, describes the tongue as “a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3: 5-6). Our words can tear people down just as easily as they can build them up. Choose your words wisely – be a people builder.
Just like words, our deeds or actions can encourage others. Again, coming at it from biblical point of view, Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The good works are the actions we are destined to perform for the benefit of others. When we physically make an effort to encourage others and meet their needs, we “…do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17. You know it to be true; when someone physically steps into your life and gives you the boost you need for the day, for the season, it makes a world of difference. Words without action are just that – words.
Hopefully I have encouraged you to be a Refresher. When you wake up in the morning, before you put your feet on the floor, make up your mind to be encouraged. For no other reason than you have breath and get to live another day. Use that truth and allow it to spill into the lives of others. You can be an encourager for someone today, tomorrow…Be a Refresher and not a Drainer. Be blessed!