Because we live in a fallen world, there will be times when we will want to quit trying to be the people God has called us to be. We'll go through times of uncertainty about where God wants us to go or what He wants us to do. We'll be faced with trials that cause us to believe God has left us and that we must continue alone. We may even begin to believe that living life for Christ is not worth it and He couldn't possibly be the only way to Heaven. What do we do during these times and how can we help our fellow Christ-followers make it through them as well? The answer is encouragement.
What does encouragement mean? According to Dictionary.com, encouragement means to inspire with courage--to provide "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear." I don't know about you, but I have realized that I become most passionate about living my life for Christ when I surround myself with fellow believers who constantly encourage me to allow God to change me and mold me into the person He wants me to be. Let's face it, Christianity is not a lone ranger lifestyle. We are relational beings and, as such, we need to bind together and lift each other up (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Thessalonians 5:11).
It's important to understand that encouragement should be a two-way street. Not only should we get into a habit of encouraging others, but we should also surround ourselves with people who are encouraging to us. Paul understood this and mentioned it in his letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 1:12). He knew that encouragement should be a practice that is carried out throughout the whole community of believers, for even those who encourage others need to be encouraged themselves!
Are you an encouragement to the people around you? Are you making an effort to be with other believers in order to encourage and be encouraged? Throughout His time on earth, Jesus constantly encouraged His disciples. We too should encourage others by reminding them of the amazing and undeserving love that Jesus provides and by being there for them during the hard times that this life brings. As you go throughout your day, think of some ways that you can become a better encourager to those whom God has placed in your path and make some plans to meet with fellow believers so that you can be encouraged as well. Take comfort from the fact that we do not live this life alone; Christ is faithful to us and surely will be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).