We all need encouragement! That’s always been true, and as we continue to venture deeper into 2021, everyone is feeling the need for it now more than ever. Human-beings are hard-wired for encouragement. We need people who speak hope and build confidence into our lives so that we can consistently live in a manner that’s worthy of the Gospel of Christ (Php 1:27). This is why God commands us to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thes 5:11).
Encouragement is one of the spiritual gifts explicitly referenced in the New Testament and it’s so important that God tells us it should be a daily practice (Rom 12:8; Heb 3:13). It is fuel for our faith enabling us to persevere and overcome the hurdles we all face as we run the race marked out for us (Heb 12:1). We must encourage one another because…
- It reminds us we need one another. The flame of faith needs to be repeatedly stoked by encouragement. Throughout the New Testament, we see how the early believers supported and emboldened one another. Paul purposefully commented on how he was personally encouraged and how encouragement filled the felt-needs of others (2 Cor 7:13; 1 Thes 3:7).
- It strengthens our faith. There is a real connection between the fellowship of the saints and the encouragement we need to live out our faith in Kingdom-advancing ways (Ecc 4:9-12; Heb 10:24-25). Our faith grows stronger in the company of spiritual friends who love Jesus and want to live for Him (Prov 27:17; Rom 1:12).
- It helps us overcome sin. Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” One of the side-effects of sin’s deceitfulness is it hardens hearts. Encouragement counteracts this and softens our hearts so that we can be more attune to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives, hear God’s truth and walk in obedience. Sin speaks lies whereas encouragement speaks life, which finds its source in God’s truth.
You can empower your small group members in their faith through encouragement, and when you model how to do it, they will be inspired to do the same for one another. There are countless practical ways you can encourage others whether your words are delivered in-person or online, by mouth or by text:
- Use Scripture to remind your small group members of God’s Presence, power, and promises.
- Make yourself available to them because it’s encouraging when you know somebody has your back (Ecc 4:9-12).
- Affirm virtues you see in them and the impact they have on others.
- Challenge your small group members to exercise their God-given spiritual gifts in new ways (1 Cor 12:7).
- Talk about God’s grace, Jesus’ sacrifice, our deliverance and redemption because it’s encouraging being reminded of who we are in Him.
- Help them develop an eternal perspective and think about excellent and praiseworthy things (Php 4:8).
- Let your small group members know you’re praying for them and find practical ways that you can actually carry their burdens with them (Gal 6:2).
- An uplifting note, a gift or gesture of love showing somebody that you’re thinking of them and believe in them goes a long way.
Encouragement is contagious! Your small group members will want to echo the ways in which you lead the way with encouraging your group. The Lord will use your effort to stretch and strengthen the faith of others so they will be empowered to live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:5). If there were a spiritual prescription to follow for entering into this new season of your small group’s life together, encouragement would certainly be a part of it, and God will use what you do to enrich your community together.