Recently, I received a letter from a man, asking for some biblical guidance in the area of encouragement. Not only was he interested in finding out the meaning of en-couragement, but he also desired some practical advice on how to give encouragement and how to receive it. He wondered if the reason some Christians are so reluctant to offer an encouraging compliment is because of their fear of lifting someone up with pride. Considering the fact that only God should get the glory in all things, he was genuinely concerned about praising someone for something they’ve done. The following is my response back to him. I hope that it will encourage you to encourage others.

Thanks for your letter and the questions you’ve asked about encouragement. I believe that the best example of what it means to encourage others is to look at our Lord’s words to the churches of Revelation 2 and 3. He certainly didn’t hesitate to compliment and commend them, and wasn’t concerned that it would go to their heads and inflate their egos. He simply told them positive things that He saw about their behavior. And so, I think it is perfectly right to compliment other Christians by commending them for godly behavior. What they do with that information is up to them. But I believe that to withhold such encouragement would be wrong.

I also think that encouragement is something that all of us need, because it is so easy to be discouraged. We live in a world that offers very few words of commendation and praise, so I believe that when we do praise someone, it really lifts their spirits and encourages them. Encouragement is similar to strengthening believers and edifying them, and that’s something all of us should be actively involved in.

As far as receiving encouraging words of praise, I used to try to deflect them by explaining that it’s really the Lord and not me. However, that tends to sound a bit like pseudo humility, so now I usually say, “Thanks” or “Praise the Lord,” with an understanding in my heart that whatever I am, I am by the grace of God.

One principle to guide us in encouragement is the Golden Rule. We are to do unto others, as we would have them do unto us. Therefore, since words of encouragement tend to strengthen me and spur me on to do good, I’m compelled to offer words of encouragement to others.

At the end of the day my advice to you is not to over analyze the concept of encouragement, but to concentrate on encouraging others, even if they don’t encourage you back.

Responding to Laws We Don’t Like

Sometime back a Christian friend of mine received a traffic citation for not wearing his seat belt when driving his car. He was incensed, giving the usual complaints about the enforcement of such safety laws as a waste of law enforcement’s time (“they should be catching true bad guys instead of harassing fathers taking [...] . . . → Read More: Responding to Laws We Don’t Like

How Did Christ Become Sin for Us?

Sometime back a friend asked the following question: “2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So does this mean that Christ gave up His holiness at the cross? How could this be if [...] . . . → Read More: How Did Christ Become Sin for Us?

A Lesson in True Integrity

In the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance” released in 2000, Matt Damon plays Rannulph Junuh, a former golfing great. One of the final scenes of the movie demonstrates personal character and integrity in a way rarely seen in today’s secular films. Junuh, who has been greatly impacted by his experiences in World War I, is [...] . . . → Read More: A Lesson in True Integrity

What About Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?

When I was 18 years old, somebody told me about Jesus Christ and the message of salvation. I am so grateful that this person loved me enough to tell me that I was a sinner and needed to be saved. But there are millions of people who have never heard the gospel, and countless others [...] . . . → Read More: What About Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?

Should Pastors Teach the Doctrine of Election?

As I write this blog, I am in the country of Honduras, having just finished speaking at a Bible conference. For the last several days I have been teaching verse by verse through Romans chapters 9-11 about God’s righteousness in His dealings with Israel. Among the many issues taught by the Apostle Paul in these chapters [...] . . . → Read More: Should Pastors Teach the Doctrine of Election?

The Importance of the Gospel

Apart from the gospel, nothing else matters. Don’t read that statement and make the assumption that I am just using hyperbole. I am not. No human achievement of any kind will matter when you stand before God. The only thing that will matter is who is going to pay for your sins. It will either be [...] . . . → Read More: The Importance of the Gospel

Essentials for Christian Growth – Part 1

The health and success of your Christian life depends on what you do with your Bible. If you neglect it, you will stagnate in your spiritual growth. However if you get into the Bible, if you open and study your Bible and dig into God’s word, you’ll become spiritually strong which will lead to growth in the Lord. You’ll get to know Jesus Christ in a way you did not realize was possible. Your faith will increase and your life will be blessed. A Christian who regularly studies the Bible knows and experiences not only the joy of the Lord, but also knows the comfort of the Lord in times of trouble. The importance of the Bible cannot be underestimated. . . . → Read More: Essentials for Christian Growth – Part 1