Sons of Encouragement
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 5:00PM
Jeff Smith in Discipleship

The writer of the Hebrew letter, who preferred to remain anonymous, offered powerful advice: “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (3:13).

Exhortation is more than advice, of course; it is part of the will of God, even if some are better at it than others. The Greek word is Parakaleo (parakalew); it means, “to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort.” In English, it carries the connotation of communicating courage and confidence to another person. It is the objective behind another of the Hebrew writer’s statements. In tempering his stern rebuke, he added, “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things – things that belong to salvation” (6:9).

Encouragement is a part of discipleship and is one of the functions of our worship assemblies each week. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Perhaps our mere presence affords some a dose of encouragement, but our words and actions go further. We can promise to pray, offer to help, find things to praise and room to instruct.

Encouragement is also a part of leadership, no matter the setting. Coaches and teachers and platoon leaders have to learn how to communicate confidence to people who may be laboring with self doubt. Parents do great damage when they beat down their children with harsh and discouraging rhetoric, seldom finding anything praiseworthy (Colossians 3:21).

Encouragement in the church, however, is just as vital and more enduring. Preachers can fall into a pattern of only calling out sin and speaking so pessimistically that people become discouraged – about society, the congregation and themselves. Without leaping to the opposite extreme where a positive mental attitude drowns out necessary correction and realistic analysis, the one who teaches must seek balance and always express hopefulness and confidence (First Thessalonians 4:18, 5:14; Acts 13:15).

As a leader, the apostle Paul learned how to balance instruction with encouragement. “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren,” he told the Romans (15:14). He boasted confidently about the Greeks’ obedience (Second Corinthians 9:4, Philippians 1:6). Today, we look to our shepherds for encouragement and confidence, hoping to find in their words and actions that we are sharing in spiritual progress and optimism.

Barnabas was known as the son of encouragement among the apostles (Acts 4:36). People can become beaten down and awfully discouraged, but if their brethren and leaders are sons of encouragement, they can survive.

Article originally appeared on ElectronicGospel (
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