Today’s reading: Hebrews 1, 2, 3, Proverbs 29
Hebrews 3:12-14 (NKJV)
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.
I have served as a senior pastor for over twenty-five years and have been involved in ministry for thirty-four years. Throughout those years there have been many good times and many difficulties and struggles. Yet there has never been a day I did not need nor appreciate encouragement from others. One of the most powerful ministry gifts in the body of Christ is encouragement.
When you break down this word it means to infuse with courage. Did you realize when you encourage someone else you actually infuse them with courage? What a powerful reality. The book of Job says that our words strengthen feeble knees. Our words can build people up or tear them down. I don’t know a more vital ministry than the ministry of encouragement.
The context of this passage is warning the church to stay out of unbelief and deceitfulness of sin that leads to a hard heart and departing from the living God. The Lord’s antidote to this downward spiral of spiritual decline is one thing: the church is commanded to encourage one another daily. God promises that daily encouragement will prevent unbelief, hardness of heart, deceitfulness of sin and departing from the living God.
It also results in a confident walk with God that helps us finish our race, steadfast to the end. None of us is exempt from this ministry. Neither is any of us above needing it. This is something we need to be involved in giving and need to receive within each twenty-four hour period – every day. I remember a time I was feeling very low and discouraged. I had just experienced a betrayal in a close relationship and some setbacks in important ministry plans. I was feeling very much like a failure.
During that time we had one of our meetings for our pastor’s group in Wise county scheduled. During that meeting one of the pastors began to tell the others present how much his relationship with me had meant to him. He started quoting specific counsel I had given him that helped him through a very difficult time. Then he began to share how healthy his church was as a result of the wisdom he had received from me and others in our group.
By the time that meeting was finished, I was no longer discouraged. I was pumped. It was amazing how one man’s encouragement had so radically changed my attitude in just a few minutes. Never underestimate the power of this vital ministry. Our job is to give courage to people. Help them see themselves through God’s eyes by imparting to them His perspective in the form of encouragement. Do it intentionally. Do it daily. Give it to as many as possible. Those who heed these words will never lack friends or fulfillment in life.