Pastor Kyle McIver
This is one of my favorite times of the year, for three simple reasons: the days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and the Twins are about to start playing the regular season. I’m always buoyed and excited when these spring months roll around, and yet this year, for me, is a little different. I’m coming out of what I would call a very challenging last five or six months. Simply put, the demands of life’s different responsibilities piled up in a uniquely intense way that led to a very challenging season.
And if you’re like me, you’re familiar with feelings of coming up short when life demands a lot. You do your best with the circumstances you have, but there’s a nagging sense of failure you carry around all day because it doesn’t feel like you’re quite up to scratch. And I will admit, I’ve felt that a lot lately.
Now I share this because I want to highlight an ordinary, yet extraordinarily precious means of God’s grace I’ve experienced in this challenging season: encouragement. God often uses his people as an expression of his love and his sustaining grace while we journey forward together in a fallen world. And over the last few months, I’ve been surprised to find how precious encouragement has been to me. I mean, almost in an embarrassing way. The night when I received an encouraging email from someone in our church, or the time when I received an encouraging text from someone in my community group, or the kind word someone spoke to me when we just catching up. I mean, these moments surprised me! I was so struck by their kindness and so encouraged by their words that I felt like simply sitting down and letting it sink in.
And church - this ought to be part of our life together. Encouragement needs to be part of the fabric of our relationships. Let me give three very brief angles on encouragement from the New Testament:
Romans 1:11-12 - Paul writes: For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Ephesians 6:22 - Tychicus is coming to the church in Ephesus, and here’s the reason why: I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
Romans 15:4 - highlights one role that God’s Word plays in each of our lives: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.
Like Paul and the Romans, we encourage one another when we follow Jesus together. Seeing your brothers and sisters fight the fight of faith, walk with Jesus, and love their neighbors is an encouragement to press on yourself and do the same.
Like Tychicus, we are to come to our brothers and sisters looking to encourage them in specific ways. Look for evidence of God’s grace in someone’s life and point it out… encourage them by sharing something specific about their life and faith that you admire or have been challenged by.
And let’s bring the Word to bear on each other’s lives - holding up the grace of God and the encouragement of the Scriptures so that together, we might have hope.
Church - do not underestimate the impact of your words and your encouragement in the life of another. Look at Jesus and His Word, look at those around you... and speak words of encouragement to your brothers and sisters.