The Need To Encourage Others

Continue helpful contact with people. Show people you really care about them with a second question. Show them your gratitude with a second thank-you. It's important to get together with other Christians.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Philippians 2


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, my radio friend, how in the world are you? I am so grateful for these opportunities to share from God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word, the Bible. It brings us together across the miles; the miles drop away and we’re together with God’s Word. I love that, don’t you? I’ve been praying that God might give you something that you can get hold of for yourself.

We were talking the last time we got together about this matter of comfort as you have the text in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Comfort yourselves together.” That’s really our word “encourage.” How do you comfort? How do you encourage? And you remember, I gave you a little rundown of some ideas that are helpful along that line. Be there; your presence, your loving, compassionate presence is important. Listen; don’t talk. Love; don’t preach. Encourage by positive reinforcement. If you’re going to make any suggestions, do it by indirection: “Oh, by the way, what would you think of this?” You see, people (and that’s you and I and everybody else, remember; we’re in this together) resist any suggestion of change. Number one, because you’re suggesting that they change, there is a subtle loss of face involved. It’s an admission that things aren’t as good as they ought to be or that they ought to be different. And so, you have to help them over that hurdle. It’s a human nature hurdle that you and I may help them with if we simply do our suggesting more or less by indirection. “What would you think of this?” “Oh, by the way, how about this?” “Have you ever thought of doing it this way?” Alright?

And then, before I leave this word “comfort,” I want to urge us all to continue helpful contact with people. I learned from Dr. Clyde Narramore that it’s the second question that proves whether or not you’re interested. And he used the illustration of meeting someone in the hallway, and you say, “Hello, Susie, how are you?” She says, “Not so good,” and you say, “Oh, I’m sorry,” and you pass on. Does that prove that you care? Not at all.

But, if you turn on your heel and you look at her and say, “Oh, I’m sorry. What seems to be the trouble?” Then, she has an opportunity, said Dr. Narramore, to tell you that her mother fell down the cellar stairs and broke her hip, and she’s in the hospital and Susie is so afraid that her mother is not going to make it. She’s just upset so much, and then you have a chance to comfort and encourage her, and maybe have prayer with her, and maybe to go see her mother in the hospital and prove that you care. It’s the second question, said Dr. Narramore, that proves whether or not you care.

And then, he says, it’s the second thank-you that proves whether or not you’re grateful. Dr. Narramore used the illustration of a gift at Christmas. Someone has given you a Waring blender, and you write the usual thank-you note: “Dear Fred, thank you very much for your Christmas gift; I’m sure we’ll enjoy it very much.” However, a July evening comes, and it’s sweltering hot, and you think to yourself, “I’m going to make some lemonade.” And then you think, “Well, how about Fred? He isn’t that far away.” And so, you call up and say, “Hey Fred, what are you doing?” And he says, “I’m home alone. My wife is out to a meeting, and it’s hot, and I am fed up.” Well, you say to him, “We just enjoy so much that Waring blender that you gave us at Christmas, and I’m going to make some lemonade. Do you want to come over for a glass of ice cold lemonade?” “Oh,” he says, “Yeah, boy!” And he’s there before you can turn around. He gets going right away. So you put some ice and lemon, and sugar, and water, and you mix it up there in that blender and it comes out sparkling, cold, and refreshing. And then you say to him as you hand him his glass of lemonade, “Fred, I’m so grateful for that present that you gave us at Christmas; we’ve had such good use of it and I’m really grateful.” Now he knows that you’re thankful, said Dr. Narramore.

It’s the second question that proves whether or not you care. It’s the second thank-you that proves whether or not you’re grateful. And it’s the second contact, and the third, and the fourth, and the twelfth, and the hundredth. It’s the second contact that proves that you are interested in comforting and encouraging your Christian brothers and sisters. It’s something to think about for you, beloved, if you want to work on it. I was brought up by a father who, although he never went even as far as high school, was self-educated and quite an astute psychologist, as he proved from time to time. He would be talking with me concerning something that I thought I couldn’t do, and he would look at me and clap his work-hardened hands together, and say, “I’m betting on you, my boy. You can do it.” I remember the first time he used that phrase was when I was, I suppose, not quite seven. And he had the idea that I ought to take violin lessons, and so he got me in touch with a teacher at the Cleveland School of Music.

I remember his name so clearly, and I’ve a visual photograph of him in my memory: J. Garfield Chapman was his name. He always smelled of cigar smoke and cologne, and was an excellent violinist in his own right, and a fine teacher. And so he started me with J. Garfield Chapman, two lessons a week, and I had to practice two hours a day. And the first thing I had to learn was how to hold the violin. You don’t hold the violin up with the heel of your left hand. That’s lazy position. You hold the violin with your chin and your shoulder. That’s why there’s a chin rest there. And I had also what they call a shoulder pad underneath the instrument. And I had to learn to hold that violin with pressure from my shoulder and chin, and then I had to hold my left elbow so that it was under the instrument, so that the fingers of my left hand would come down perpendicularly on the strings. The end of the finger would press on the string, instead of the soft pad of the finger if I had held it in lazy fashion. I got so tired, and my arm would hurt, and I’d say, “Pop, I can’t do it.” And then he would say, “I’m betting on you, my boy. I know you can do it.” And I’d feel encouraged.

Oh, listen. Try this matter of encouraging people, will you? Your expression of confidence in someone who is trying hard to achieve may be just the thing that is needed to get them over the top. Conversely, an ill-timed criticism may be just the thing that discourages. My own heart has been hurt from time to time by hearing from people who knew me so well saying, “You don’t really believe in me.” What had caused that? An ill-timed criticism. I’ve got a quick tongue that I inherited from my mother, I’m sure. My father told me that she prayed every day, “Lord, set a watch before the door of my lips; keep the door of my heart.” And sometimes, I’ve spoken quickly, you may be sure, and thus ill-advisedly. Listen, a well-placed encouragement when somebody is trying to make it may be just the thing that will help get them over the top. Will you remember that? Encourage, be there, listen (don’t talk), love (don’t preach), encourage by positive reinforcement, suggest things by indirection, and a continual helpful contact. Don’t forget, it’s the second contact, and the thirty-second, and the one-hundred-and-second contact that really counts.

So, he says, encourage one another; comfort one another. Now, he says, “Comfort yourselves together,” and that means that there is a positive result in getting together with Christians. People say, “Why do I have to go to church? I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian,” and the truth is, “No, of course you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” You go to church because you are a Christian, and you seek the fellowship of others. The Bible says, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, and so much the more as you see as you see the day” (that’s the end of the age) “approaching.” We need more fellowship with Bible-believing, Spirit-filled Christians. We need more fellowship with that kind of believer, rather than less as the time goes by. So if you want to be encouraged, get together with people who love the Lord. You seek to encourage them; they also will seek to encourage you. Good idea?

Now, he uses the word “edify.” We won’t finish talking about that before time runs out, but we can start. Edify is the Greek word oikodomeo, “build a house.” Build up; edify, and there is another meaning that is given to that verb: embolden. It’s interesting, and I’ll talk about it after a while. Edify means build up. Seek to build the other person up. Now that has to start with your attitude. Look not every man on his own things only, says Paul in Philippians 2, but every man also on the things of others. Let nothing be done through strife (“I have to win the argument,”) or vain glory, (“I have to look good,”) but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves. Esteem means “consider.” Your mindset, your whole attitude, is involved there. Lowliness of mind.

You have to realize that every person you ever meet is going to be better at something than you are. I often say just for a chuckle, even if he’s a dope he’s a better dope than you are. But for real, every person you ever meet is better than you are. If you’re out in the wilds of Australia and you’re lost, and you come across one of the Aboriginal people, he knows every blade of grass and twig and footprint in that whole vast area, and you trust him to lead you out to civilization. He was better at it. He couldn’t give you the derivation of a Greek word, he couldn’t quote you any Latin, he couldn’t tell you what the world’s political situation is, he couldn’t drive a car, he couldn’t write his name, but he could save your life. It’s something, isn’t it?

So, always remember that every person you meet is better at something than you are, and you have to consider them. In lowliness of mind, consider the other person better than yourself. So this matter of building people up has to start with your mental attitude. Don’t look on your own things only, he says, but every man also on the concerns of others. So we start from the idea of being concerned about the other person rather than yourself. That’s where you start if you’re going to build anybody up. We’ll get at the rest of this the next time we get together. It’s been nice to be with you.

Dear Father, today, oh, may we care enough about other people to get with them and care enough to help build them up. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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