Do you encourage others? When is the last time someone encouraged you with a kind word, a compliment, a card or note or even to let you know they are praying for you? Would you like to be an encouragement to others?
Let’s look at the power of affirmation from a Biblical perspective. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy with the intention of encouraging him. Too often we are quick to judge and criticize others when we should be building them up. This is what happened to Timothy, who was being despised because of his young age. Even though he was functioning as an ambassador for Paul with the church at Ephesus, the believers there were still looking down on him and criticizing him. We don’t know all the reasons why the believers criticized Timothy but that really doesn’t matter at this point. Except to say criticism hurts.
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We are in the last days and now is the time to stand together in unity, with one voice, with one spirit, and urge each other on. If we’re sensitive to the Holy Spirit we WILL affirm and not tear down. Scripture tells us that we need to look for the positive in each person, to esteem the other person better than ourselves.
We need to be purposeful in building each other up.
We need to hear with the ears of the Spirit and not our own ears. Let’s do away with accusations and start affirming one another.
As in other studies I have published, I like to use the King James Version (Public Domain), so if you have your own favourite version, please use it to read along with us. The links in this study are for the Blue Letter Bible so you can follow them if you’re not at home while reading this. In addition, I do not receive any compensation for the links.
Back to Timothy. Paul had seen the potential in Timothy and had taken him under his wing. Timothy was young, probably about 25 or so. He worked with Paul and represented him since he was in prison. Timothy carried out Paul’s instructions as he ministered to the believers in Ephesus. When Paul heard how Timothy was being treated by the believers, he was quick to encourage him and build him up. In 1 Timothy 4:12, we read that Paul told him not to let anyone despise him because of his age and that he was to be an example to the believers in his conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith and in purity. It’s interesting to note how Timothy was to respond to criticism and negativity. As a spiritual leader, Timothy was to lead by example, showing the believers how it was to be done when faced with criticism. Paul then encouraged him to continue to read the Word, as well as give attention to exhortation and to doctrine.
It has been said that when people tear down others, it’s because they need to build themselves up, to make themselves look good at the expense of others. Ouch! I say ‘ouch’ because if we’re truthful with ourselves and we admit that we’ve done that, we can ask ourselves the question, did we really make ourselves look good to the person we were talking with? In all honesty, I don’t believe we did. I believe that the other person recognized the words we spoke as slurs on a third party and more than likely they didn’t appreciate hearing it but just didn’t know how to respond. Let’s learn to think twice before we speak once. And I’ll take my own advice too as I’m still a work in progress.
When we allow others to demean us, we are giving them the right to trample us. We need to be assertive but not let them knock us down. In our assertion, we can be direct but not offensive. Here are some phrases we can say when someone says to us things they shouldn’t be saying: “I don’t appreciate what you just said” or “That is not being kind.” This is being assertive but not mean. And when spoken kindly, we are demanding respect without being pushy.
This statement that Paul made to Timothy, not to let others look down on him because of his age, reminds me that we should look beyond the natural, to see the potential in others. Just because someone wears last year’s fashions, doesn’t mean that we should snub them or be rude to them.
We need to be more gracious in our speech as death and life are in the power of the tongue. It’s very easy to tear down but more satisfying to build up. We can do this through a note, a phone call, a hug, or a kind word. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. What you sow, you will reap. These may sound like cliches but in reality they are Scriptural principles emanating with truth.
Place stepping stones in front of others, not stumbling blocks.
Be positive, gracious, and focus on whatever is wholesome and good and pure in people. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
And not only should we think these things, we can also speak these things as well.
We can always find something nice to say, “I love that colour blue on you, it really brings out your blue eyes!” Be sincere though because we can all tell when someone is flattering us with empty words.
The difference between flattery and affirmation is in the motive. Look for opportunities to encourage and lift up. Provoke one another to do good deeds, allowing them to walk closer to God. Find practical ways to help people and the spiritual ways will follow. It is by our love for people that we will be known.
When we see believers who are obeying God, let’s take the time to affirm them and thank God for what He’s doing through them.
Here’s a list of ways to encourage others:
- smile at them. You never know what they are going through and your smile could make their day!
- send them a note or card. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, just a quick “hello, I’m thinking of you” note. You could include a Scripture verse that is uplifting such as “Be strong and of good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Joshua 10:25 and 1 Chronicles 28:20 to name a few.)
- an email or text message that will appear in the middle of their day. It will lift their spirits to know someone cares.
- go for coffee or lunch. If you can swing it, invite them out for a bit. Maybe they have been cooped up inside and would welcome an opportunity to go out.
- call her up to go for a walk or hike. If you’re both into this type of activity, this would be a great time to get to know each other better.
- give them a hug. So often we see people but don’t reach out with a hug. Physical contact does wonders for people. Be careful though, as some people aren’t ‘huggers.’ You could ask them first, “Can I give you a hug” and take it from there.
- tell them you are praying for them but only if you really are. And not just a superficial “God bless so and so today” kind of prayer. Intercede for them. Pray deeply for them, lifting them up to God for His will to be done in their lives.
- for a practical way of affirmation, we could drive them to an appointment or to get groceries, or, if they’ve been cooped up for a while, a drive along a scenic route might be the think they need to lift their spirits.
My favourite verses for encouragement are the “Be strong and of good courage” ones, as noted above in the 2nd bullet. God repeatedly encouraged Joshua with those words and we can encourage each other with them as well.
In a world that is full of negativity, it’s time we put a positive spin on things and be kind and nice to others, leading by example, as Paul instructed Timothy. If we practiced being an encourager, how will that make others feel? We’d surely make their day! So, as we are led of the Spirit, let us do good towards others.
What are your thoughts on the power of affirmation? Is this something that is lacking in today’s society? Can believers unite and lead by example?
If you think of any other way(s) to encourage people that could be added to the above list, would you mind leaving a comment for me? And if you plan on encouraging someone who really needs to be uplifted, would you share with me what you did or are going to do to be an encourager? I’d love to hear from you!
Be blessed and be a blessing today!