“So encourage each other and build each other up.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Ahh yes, the November weather has finally come! At least sort of here in North Carolina. I love this month, I love October, but I really like the themes that surround November. Thanksgiving time is here, which means many blogs about things we are thankful for, but one of the things I want to do is talk about ways to treat those in our lives. Family is big to me, not just biological, but my friends; brothers and sisters in Christ. One of my favorite memories about November and thanksgiving is that each year, my family would open up our home to people who couldn’t make it home or may have not had family. It was always awesome to me, but I’ll save my thoughts on that for later (no spoilers). I think so often we talk about what we’re thankful for, but sometimes don’t always show it. Talk is great, but God gives us actions to live out faith. Today I want to talk about something that many of us don’t do nearly as much as we need to, because we all need it desperately. We need to be an encourager.
That verse only a few lines above comes from Paul, speaking to the church in Thessalonica, during a time where they were persecuted for being Christian. Life sucks sometimes, let’s just face it. Often, we deal with very real and heavy issues (I mean the past two weeks I wrote about my own struggles with anxiety). We experience physical and emotional pain, loss, loathing, fear, addiction, abuse, anger, and a whole range of other storms. It can be difficult to carry on. We don’t want to wake up because we think the day can only bring us down even more. It is very real. Your struggles and emotions are very real. That’s why we need to be encouragers. Paul knew it. He knew that just like you, we are running a very difficult race. We are tired, our legs are cramping, that stitch in your side is killing you, the sweat starts to close your eyes from the finish line. In these moments, we need people by our side, cheering us on. We need to be encouragers. We need to be like the kids in Stranger Things.
We need to hear words of encouragement. So many times, I’ll see people to really awesome things, and I try to acknowledge that in the moment. Why? Because words have power, we can build people up with just a simple but meaningful compliment. The sad truth is, this doesn’t happen. We often speak correction and scold people when we make a mistake, but when good things happen, we don’t say a word. We have to step into that moment. At my afterschool work at the Greensboro Montessori school, I got a letter. My first thought was, oh no, what did I do wrong (isn’t that sad that’s often our first thoughts?). What it was, was actually a letter from someone on staff who is the mom to two of the students I get the pleasure of working with. It was simply here telling me that she appreciated me and loved the energy I brought. That lit me up! For me, my love language of receiving is words of affirmation, but each one of us need to have encouragement spoken into our lives.
We need to be like the kids in Stranger Things. If you haven’t seen the show on Netflix, it basically boils down to, a group of misfit kids coming together to save each other and beat a monster, and it takes place in the eighties. Boom, just non-spoiler summarizationed (not a real word) that for you. I love it, because it shows kids having to face a huge mountain, one that has no problem killing I may add, and they come together, encouraging each other the whole way. There’s a great moment where Dustin (my favorite) stands up for his friend Eleven (that’s her name and she’s a telepath). He says a great line, “She’s our friend and she’s crazy!” We need people in our lives like that. We need people who will stand with you, craziness and all, and say that they are your friend. We also need to be that person to others, we need to be an encourager.
I love the kids in Stranger Things, and I think Paul would agree with me. We need people in our lives who will not only speak life, but be present. Nothing feels worse than feeling alone. The truth is, we are never alone, we have a God who loves us and wants a relationship with us. When we choose that, we have the Holy Spirit living in us who helps us keep an authentic faith and help us show genuine love and care for people around us. Even when life is hard, God is with us, so we need to build others up that need to hear that same truth. We need to not only speak life, but say, I choose to walk with you through this. Stranger Things does this, not only do the kids encourage each other, but when they could just walk away, they come to the conclusion that they will walk together in the battles they have to face. They team up, we need to team up. Don’t think you need to live on some sort of island, come together in community and build up the people in your life. We need to be an encourager to everyone in our life. We have been called to do this as believers, and we know that there will be struggles, but with Christ we can weather the storm together.
Paul was speaking to people who were being persecuted every day. They had to be one the move because they were being hunted. They were struggling, and they needed to be encouraged. Many of us are in dire need of encouragement. Something that makes me so sad today, is the fact that many feel judged by the church. We need to be the church, which means we need to be encouragers to everyone we meet. We should never cast someone away based on their past, we need to encourage them to turn from their old ways and live in freedom. Wouldn’t it be incredible is the church was known as a place where people were encouraged and could step into all that God has for them because of that? We need to be encouragers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23 has Paul speaking to the church about all the many ways they can encourage. We need to speak life and be present. In a month where each day people will post something they are thankful for, what if we spoke that to the person, what if we called up that person you are thankful for and simply spoke life into them? You have the ability to be an encourager and you could radically change the life of someone forever. So, be like the kids in Stranger Things, stand with the people in your life and lead them into a relationship with Christ. Speak life and be present, and God will use you.
Be an encourager, because people need to see the love of God in their struggles.