Journal 1 Thes 5 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thes 5:11
Observation: Encourage one another in what?
Analysis: This verse also comes to mind: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort (or in the NASB and NIV “encourage”) one another every day—as long as it is called “today”—that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:12-13)
The point of Paul and the writer of Hebrews are the same: Care for your brother in Christ by paying attention to the gift of Grace exhibited by that brother.
Encouragement is more that a pat on the back or a quick comment of “good job” although I am more than reminded by the Spirit of instances that I do just that (I am ashamed to say; my face is red—I am remembering factually that what I write is not always reflected in the mirror and my life; writing this and preaching to myself…).
Paying attention to ‘gifts of Grace’ in others is working my own heart to stop paying attention to myself (not to be self-important, self-absorbed, self-inclined). It is making myself “consider others more important than myself…” (Phil 2:3 “Doing nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves)
Think biblical encouragement is easy? Think again.
Biblical spontaneity is like improvisation: Preparation is the key. Practice, practice, and practice some more. Some of it is going to sound clunky, not smooth at all. There are other times where an aspiring encourager is going to wonder, “What am I going to encourage in this person?”
A good start is the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: See someone doing well in loving the saints? Say so. How about a youngster being diligent in serving the church in tear down on Sunday? Pull them aside, find the parents and recognize them privately like that.
Tell your wife that you see holiness blossoming in her life and in what way SPECIFICALLY (no generalizations—words matter). Recognize your children in the home that way.
Write notes. Become a note writing church body. Send notes to others. I have a personal note from a pen-pal that I have framed and set in my office. When I am down and doubting, it helps set my head back on straight.
Encourage to build each other up; it is a defensive measure to keep us away from the deceitfulness of sin.
Prayer: Father, what a powerful word encouragement is. It is powerful enough to keep believers from falling prey to an unbelieving heart and to keep hearts softened from the lies and deceit of sin.
It is also important enough that Paul and the writer of Hebrews made essential and vital mention for the believers to practice. How much, then, should I pay attention to train myself and exercise encouragement with others?
Ricky Two Shoes