Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California
Copyright © 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
The mature believer shares the happiness of God. This happiness results in contentment, tranquility, satisfaction, and fulfillment independent of the circumstances of life and the influence of other people. This happiness of God comes from knowing and believing the Word of God. This results in a supernatural change within the believer's life. You are changed from the inside out. A part of that change is going from happiness that depends on possessions, circumstances, yourself, or other people to a happiness that depends on Bible truth.
The word for encouragement in the Greek is paraklesis. It means comfort, consolation, and encouragement. This is the doctrine of encouragement. Philemon had a reputation of comforting other believers and consoling them in their times of trial and difficulty. He encouraged them and challenged them. He even corrected and rebuked them when they were out of line. This was all done with a spirit of unconditional love. He had a reputation for that and was a genuine source of refreshment to those believers. It was always refreshing, encouraging and stimulating to be in the presence of this mature believer. For that to be a reality in your life, you need to understand and apply the doctrine of encouragement.
THE TWO-FOLD STRUCTURE OF THE CHRISTIAN WAY OF LIFE
The Christian way of life has a two-fold structure. The invisible structure is the believer's priesthood. The visible structure is your ambassadorship.
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
These verses tell us that all Christians belong to a universal and royal priesthood. Church Age believers are priests and as such represent themselves directly to God and always function in privacy. Confession of your sins to other people in private or in public is not a Biblical principle. That results in emotionalism that is a part of modern day fundamentalism, especially in the Charismatic movement.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
You always confess all known sins directly to God the Father by application of this very important verse. Complete forgiveness of all sins and restoration to fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ occurs on the basis of acknowledging or citing known sins with a change of mental attitude toward those sins. This attitude means that you do not want to do it again. It does not mean that you will not do it again. The believer's "confession-repentance" results in restoration to fellowship and filling with The Holy Spirit. As a Spirit-filled believer, you can take in the Word of God. You can perceive it, respond with faith believing, metabolize it, and apply it in your life. It is resident in the soul and that is the basis for your spiritual advance.
Spiritual advance takes place under your priesthood not your ambassadorship. There are many ministers today that get people saved and immediately invite them to come forward and try to recognize what their spiritual gift is. Spiritual gifts, talents and abilities are identified by the individual believer-priest and identified as he grows spiritually. The maturing believer can then involve himself in spiritual service in his local church under his ambassadorship. The key to correct function of your ambassadorship is personal love toward God as your source of motivation. This motivation is based on occupation with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ through intake, metabolization and application of the Word of God. This status provides full confidence in Him and results in receiving blessings from the Lord.
This grace prosperity involves everything that God has planned for you as part of the blessings of spiritual maturity. That all comes through the correct function of the believer's priesthood. Most of the local church's policy, program, and operation should be focused on the function of the believer's priesthood. The remainder should focus on the believer's action of ambassadorship and activities of fellowship.
When you are with other believers, you should practice your unconditional love toward them. Correct application of the Word of God toward others must be put to the test in social situations. Dr. McGee used to say, "Thank God for those Christians who rub you the wrong way. It's sandpaper that God has sent to smooth up your rough edges." While other believers may smooth up your rough edges through Christian fellowship, fellowship is the result of application of both the priesthood and ambassadorship.
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19-20)
We are all ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. Our ambassadorship and representation of the Lord to the human race is one of the most important functions we have as believers. Our example and our function by helping other believers is an encouragement to others. You can be encouraged by other believers just as they can receive encouragement from you. This is only possible by the application of Bible doctrine. Metabolized doctrine can be brought to bear on other people's problems, their heartaches and their difficulties. This application of the Word can comfort them, console them, and encourage them.
You will meet believers with viewpoints and behavior that is contrary to Bible doctrine. When you do, look for polite ways to challenge and even correct them with the accurate doctrine which you have metabolized in your soul. That is application of Bible truth to a situation. That is how you can help other believers or present the Gospel to unbelievers in conversation. By emphasizing spiritual service under your ambassadorship, you serve the Lord with your gifts, your talents and your abilities. The key is impersonal or unconditional love toward all believers. Philemon was a good example of someone who had a reputation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Bible doctrine must be metabolized in your soul for you to trust the Lord and to know the doctrinal rationales and when to apply the rationales under your ambassadorship.
Application of Bible doctrine through your ambassadorship begins with confidence in God's Word based on your personal love toward Him. This confidence produces courage toward other people. You can then pass people testing, thought testing, and system testing. It is always the failure of other people that sets up testing in these areas. You can be a blessing to other people like Philemon was. He had a reputation of giving comfort, consolation, encouragement, challenge, and even correction when necessary to other believers. This was something that refreshed other Christians. They always liked to talk to Philemon because he helped them by challenging and encouraging them.
Do other people feel that way after talking with you, or do they feel sorry for you because you always complain about everything and only see the negative side? Are you the one who always sees the thorns on the rosebush or do you overlook the thorns to focus on the beauty and fragrance of the rose? The mature believer should only remember the fantastic provisions he has received from God. The grace oriented believer can then be a blessing to others. Remember, you can never bless others with encouragement until you first have been blessed by God. You have to understand and have received the blessings of spiritual growth and maturity. They come progressively from the Lord according to your personal capacity from metabolized and applied doctrine. The greater your capacity for life, the greater your capacity will be to help other people.
THE CREDIBILITY OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Many believers think they have no need of other Christians in their lives to stimulate them spiritually or to encourage them. They think of themselves as an island unto themselves and forget the words of the Apostle Paul.
If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:8-9)
Whether we live or die, we live and die unto the Lord. Your living is to have influence and impact upon other people. Your dying is to have even greater influence and impact upon other people. Like the English writer John Doone said, "No man is an island. No man stands alone. Every man is a continent, a part of the main." Sometimes, encouragement comes from unknown sources.
I recently met a young man who had spent two tours of duty in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. He was gung ho and had a good attitude even though he was holding down three jobs. His positive attitude was something that really encouraged me. We talked about MIAs and POWs still in Vietnam and how the United States surrendered in Vietnam. We also talked about the high number of veterans still loaded with bitterness. He said that many veterans he knew feel our country has a guilt complex about losing the war. He said that many veterans felt we are giving preferred treatment to immigrant South Vietnamese while we neglect our veterans. In spite of all the adversity that had come his way, this man had a good attitude. He still has a good attitude while working in a car wash. His positive attitude was a real encouragement to me.
I met another man who was also a Vietnam veteran. He had the same attitude even though he had been wounded in action that resulted in scarred legs. He had seen some heavy action over there and still had a good attitude. He was not like the average Vietnam veteran presented by the press or the entertainment media in Vietnam movies. Of the many movies produced, there are a few exceptions like "Bat 21," "Hanoi Hilton," and "Hamburger Hill" which are great Vietnam movies. Unfortunately, many Vietnam movies present soldiers as sadistic, drug addicts, killers of children, unmerciful, and evil in many ways.
American soldiers were not that way in Vietnam. Most did their assigned jobs and did them well. I was encouraged by these young men, so I sought to encourage them and to thank them for being willing to fight in a war that was unpopular. I told them that their positive mental attitude and evident patriotism was tremendous. I told them their attitude was a great encouragement to me. I was then able to give them the Gospel. It's wonderful to realize that if you will just leave yourself open to opportunities, you can encourage others and be encouraged yourself. We need to remember this as we think of the benefits of encouragement.
We all form relationships with others around us. Our function as an ambassador for Jesus Christ is important. Here is where the believer can have impact, influence and outreach. This results from the teamwork effort of spiritual gifts, talents and abilities and spiritual service as unto the Lord. That all comes from a realization that we as believers cannot isolate ourselves. We cannot be provincial and turn away from others around us. We cannot be myopic and only be concerned with our own needs, problems, and difficulties. This is self-centeredness and is a form of arrogance.
People who get carried away with their own problems develop a great deal of self-pity. Self-pity is simply arrogance and preoccupation with self. A feeling of complete self-sufficiency and independence from everyone is also arrogance. There needs to be a fine balance drawn in your spiritual life between spiritual independence from the Word of God and involvement with others under ambassadorship.
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. (Romans 16:1-2)
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. (1 Timothy 5:3,5)
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (Hebrews 5:12)
These verses confirm the fact that there are times in your life when you will need the encouragement of another person. There are times in your life when you should give encouragement to someone else. This is especially true during the infancy and adolescent stages of the spiritual life where the Christian is dependent somewhat on more mature believers. He is dependent for help, challenge, comfort, consolation, and for correction. This is the meaning of the Greek word paraklesis. The following passages clearly emphasize that Christians need one another.
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:17)
You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)
We need other believers. What about your Christian friends that are positive to the Word? They challenge you. You encourage them. Believers need each other to grow spiritually. There has never been a believer who has not been encouraged by some other believer. This includes those rare instances where some believers are isolated, positive to the Word and totally dependent on either a tape recorder or books for their spiritual growth under their priesthood. If they are truly squared away with the Word, they will be praying that the Lord will lead them to other believers. In time, as more believers join their group, they can establish a Bible study and later, a local church under the authority of their own pastor-teacher.
We need the ministry of other believers in our lives to become mature in Christ. The interactions we have with different people can have a profound effect on our spiritual advance. The believer's first pastor-teacher can get them started in their spiritual life, but also can be an example and testimony to them as Philemon was to believers around him.
This was the case when I was introduced to the ministry of J. Vernon McGee as a new believer. I learned from Dr. McNeeley who was one of my professors at Biola. I also learned from Wes Gustafson who was the pastor-teacher at the Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton, California. Throughout my ministry, I have received tremendous encouragement and challenge to study and teach from R. B. Thieme, Jr., pastor of Berachah Church in Houston, Texas. Many others have been an encouragement to me in my spiritual life and have been a challenge to me within my ministry. This includes the special fellowship I have had down through the years with other like-minded believers.
A common misconception among doctrinal believers today needs clarification. The idea that a believer can reach spiritual maturity all alone with only his tape recorder and books is erroneous. The notion that believers can lock themselves in a closet and grow spiritually without interaction with anyone else is simply academic arrogance. This erroneous attitude of independence never translates into a normal spiritual life. Believers need interaction with other people in a local church to exercise their unconditional love learned from intake and metabolization of Bible truth. Without this fellowship and interaction with other believers, they are cheating themselves out of the blessing of being encouraged by another Christian, growing spiritually, and encouraging other believers.
That is why the local churches in the Book of Acts, regardless of the location, came together every night for face-to-face intake of Bible doctrine. These meetings were for teaching from their pastor-teacher, for fellowship, for the breaking of bread, and for prayer. It was a voluntary, semi-communal situation, not something that interfered with privacy. This was not something that broke down marriage and family. They recognized that they were truly a family. They shared in each other's joys, sorrows, and needs. This is our example from the early church. They are such an important example of encouragement for us because they were such a great encouragement to one another.
Today, many local churches respond to those who are in need by individual help or by providing financial assistance. Those in need should not have to ask for help. Responsible leadership and friends in the local church may know about the need and take the initiative with the necessary help. Why? Because other believers in the local church are family - spiritual family - royal family. Even though, we still try to live independently within our own families to the neglect of other fellow members of the Royal Family of God in our local church. We should be aware of each others needs and be involved in each others lives, yet respect the degree of privacy required by other individual believers.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Encouragement of other believers is serious business. The Bible tells us to consider encouragement seriously because it represents the unique value of Christian fellowship. Christian fellowship is not simply assembling to take in the Word of God, but also social life with other believers. Structured social gatherings centered around the local church follow Biblical principles. The scheduled pot luck meals we, at Grace Bible Church, call "Ho Agapes" are held monthly with the goal that when we are together as family, we can encourage each other. We can be a blessing to each other by the example of our social life, small talk, and discussion about our jobs and interests. The most important aspect is to know that we are fellow believers in Christ. We are each there as an integral part of the Royal Family of God and we can be an encouragement, a help, a comfort, and a consolation to one another. This resulting encouragement is a two-way street.
Christian fellowship is not simply social life with other believers. The word koinonia in the Greek is the word for fellowship. It means a partnership or a sharing in. We are to share in everything that relates to the Royal Family of God. This includes the priesthood and ambassadorship of the believer. All aspects of the believer's priesthood and ambassadorship apply to each of us. As you function under your priesthood and fulfill your ambassadorship, you will be an encouragement to other believers. You won't be so weighed down with your own problems and difficulties that you cannot see the problems and difficulties of other people. When you begin to see the problems and difficulties of other people with unconditional love, you will begin to be helpful to them. When you do this, you will find real answers and solutions to your own problems and difficulties. This is the two-way street of encouragement. You will encourage them and they will encourage you. Together, you will share in the application of God's problem solving devices to your lives.
The Christian has the unique distinction of knowing that when he spends time with another Christian, both can have an eternally important and significant impact on one another. When you encourage a fellow believer, it might be something that sets the wheels of blessing in motion that will result in rewards for you throughout the eternal future. This also applies to your life as people encourage you. Remember that difficulties along the path of obedience to Bible truth can sometimes weaken our motivation to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we should encourage one another.
See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:12-13)
If you do not empathize and become involved with other people, you will be living a very empty and shallow life. You might not be exposing yourself to potential disappointment and disillusionment with the imperfections of other people, but you are also preventing any encouragement from coming your way from these people. Isolation from other people results in an unfulfilled spiritual life. When we fail to depend on the Lord and his problem-solving devices through the faith-rest-life, we come under the influence of evil. Anything that is anti-Bible doctrine is evil.
Doctrine says that we should trust the Lord via the faith-rest-life. One way to keep from retrogressing in the Christian life is to help someone else instead of thinking of your own problems and feeling sorry for yourself. This applies to simply listening to someone's problems. This may show you just how much God has already provided for you. Maybe, their problems are not as great as yours. Maybe, they are. They may be worse. When you see other people hurting and going through difficulties, you identify or empathize with them. It is one of the great blessings of Christian fellowship.
Social life is all well and good, but Christian fellowship goes way beyond that. It includes the willingness to be a listener. It includes the willingness to show compassion, empathy, and sympathy regarding the needs and difficulties of other people and to be an encouragement to them. This is not simply by patting them on the hand and quoting trite and shallow phrases of encouragement and saying everything's going to be all right. It may not go right or get better. It may get worse. If they go home thinking of what you said, and it gets worse, your shallow encouragement not based on divine viewpoint will constitute a failure of your ambassadorship. You should encourage them with God's problem-solving devices based on principles of Bible truth. Let the Holy Spirit go to work in their soul. Let Bible truth work in their lives with the encouraging function of your ambassadorship based on unconditional love.
Your life here on earth will only have quality if it is from the source of God as you advance under Bible truth. If it is not, your spiritual life will be based on arrogance which results in mental attitude sins, sins of the tongue, and sin of overt behavior pattern. This arrogant attitude toward Bible doctrine can harden the heart. This can make you insensitive to the needs of other people.
When you are arrogant and preoccupied with yourself, you think you should indulge yourself and that everything that you do in life should be related to creature comforts, the details of life and the pursuit of pleasure. It's the "me first, me alone and I really don't care about anyone else" attitude. This arrogant self-centeredness does not allow caring about someone else unless it will benefit self. Many people are this way. They talk about encouragement and comfort and think they are being sympathetic with other people, but in reality, they are doing it for themselves. This attitude of arrogance leads to hardness of heart. This leads to insensitivity to the needs of others. It comes from the deceitfulness of mental attitude sins that always begins with arrogance.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)
The Scripture says the Lord Jesus Christ went everywhere doing good. He was a constant source of encouragement to both believer and unbeliever alike. He was an encouragement in preparing His disciples for the Church Age to come when they would have the strength, power and dynamics to fulfill the Plan of God for their lives. He told them that He would send them another comforter (a Paraklete - the Holy Spirit) after His ascension. The Holy Spirit is the one who comforts, encourages, challenges, and consoles believers. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ was during His incarnation. If we are going to be experiential partakers and partners with Christ, it can only be done through the power of the Spirit as we give comfort and consolation to other people.
You have to hang onto the promises expressed in The Word of God through faith belief. This faith is based on the belief that God is faithful in carrying out his promises. Through this faith, we have that continual stability of mentality and confidence of soul that comes from the intake and application of the Word. If we are positive to the intake and application of Bible truth, we will learn how to encourage other people. If we are negative, we will not understand how to encourage other people. We will not have any mental stability or confidence in the Word of God. Our lives will be meaningless and unfulfilling to ourselves and to others.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:23-24)
Hebrews 10:23 challenges us to stay positive to the Word of God. The key to having effective encouragement is to avoid retrogression. Stay positive to the intake and application of Bible doctrine and you will automatically be an encouragement to other people. Sometimes, others in the local church are encouraged by seeing you coming out to Bible class consistently, day after day. It challenges them because you, like Philemon, are having your soul transformed from the inside out through Bible doctrine and the power of the Word of God. The result is that your example encourages other believers to stay positive to the intake of Bible doctrine and the Plan of God for their lives.
Consistent Bible class attendance where Bible doctrine has been given priority in believers' lives is also an encouragement to the pastor-teacher. It is always an encouragement to a pastor to see a Bible class packed out. Another is seeing people who have consistently attended Bible class for many years. This especially applies to those who began taking in the Word as children and continue as adults. This stimulates, refreshes, and encourages the pastor-teacher to redouble his efforts in his studying and communication of Bible doctrine. This attitude and action of believers motivated from the Word of God is a powerful source of encouragement to many other people whom you may know or not know.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, (Hebrews 10:19-21)
Hebrews 10:19-20 teaches us to think seriously about how we can encourage one another. How much of your thinking involves trying to find ways to encourage other believers? This expression of mental attitude unconditional love for others will be a growing part of your daily thinking as you continue to grow spiritually.
The articles within the Holy of Holies were a shadow representation of the person and work of Christ. The emphasis was upon His celebrityship. Hebrews 10:21 tells us that we should have a personal love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ once we have received Him as our Savior. The blood of Jesus emphasizes salvation. We are Church Age believers and are members of the Royal Family of God. We are fellow Christians and have great responsibility before the Lord.
We are royal priests. Jesus Christ is our great high priest and we are a family of priests. We are the universal, royal priesthood of God. When you function under your priesthood, you fulfill your ambassadorship. That includes encouragement, your spiritual service through the application of doctrine, and unconditional love toward others. You can be a blessing to others through encouragement.
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:22-23)
A sincere heart in Hebrews 10:22 is a thought pattern that is motivated based on a Biblical scale of values and priorities. This means there is no hypocrisy or duplicity in your life. It is your personal love for the Lord that gives you this great confidence in God. The blood of Jesus in verse 19 is the basis for forgiveness and cleansing of sin as we use confession in the Christian way of life.
Do you remember when you received Christ as Savior? You realized that he bore your sins in his own body on the tree. You freely believed in his substitutionary payment for your sins and the sins of all mankind. This simple uncluttered faith belief was salvation by grace. Your payment for your sins was never the issue before salvation and it is not the issue after salvation. The issue after salvation is your relationship with Jesus Christ. The only way to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ is to learn Bible doctrine while under the control of the Holy Spirit.
This condition requires confession of all known sins to the Father. This confession-repentance requires naming or citing those sins with an attitude that you do not want to do it again. This does not mean that you will never do it again, but you do not want to do it again. Just before confession, you have a change of mental attitude toward your known sins. You then express that changed attitude (i.e. you don't want to do it again) during your prayer of confession. It is not a license to sin, but a license to serve. The reason you can serve is because you are forgiven and cleansed.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Our confession of known sins and resultant forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ is because God the Father was satisfied with Christ's substitutionary payment for the sins of the entire human race on the cross. This is the doctrine of propitiation. Propitiation means the Father was completely satisfied with the person and work of Christ on the cross. He died for all sins. Therefore, when you confess your sins, you are forgiven and cleansed. Why? All of those sins have already been judged when the Lord Jesus Christ hung upon the cross. This is the basis for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration to fellowship in the Word of God. As spiritually advancing believers in fellowship, we have full assurance from doctrine.
We, as believer-priests, confess our sins only to the Father. However, we "confess" to other people through our reputation, the testimony and witness of our life through what we say and do. This example we give to others should portray our confidence in God. People can see it. Consider seriously how to challenge and encourage others. The Greek in 1 John 1:9 indicates this is in the present tense. This means it is something we do regularly and consistently. The growing believer should always be on his spiritual toes for an opportunity to give encouragement to another person.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)
The word "spur" in Hebrews 10:24 sounds like this would be an emotional activity. It is not. This means serious consideration from the thought pattern of the soul. This is using emotions of the soul to challenge and encourage one another to love and to do good deeds. We are to grow in hope (Hebrews 10:23). We are to grow in love. We are to grow in good deeds which is the production of divine good. We need other people to encourage us who are further along in the spiritual life.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
The day approaching is the day of the Rapture. The word "day" in the Bible sometimes is used for a 24 hour period. Sometimes, it is used for an extended time, like the "Day of the Lord", which is 1,007 years (the Tribulation plus the Millennium). The "Day of God" is the entire eternal future. Sometimes, the word "day" is used for the twinkling of an eye - the Rapture of the Church. That is how fast the Rapture will occur.
THE BENEFITS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Mature believers are very stimulating and pleasurable to be near because they challenge you by their example, their words, their fellowship, and by their testimony. This interaction with mature believers is a comfort and consolation during times of disaster testing and difficulty. There are times of stimulation and challenge from others that produces motivation in our own lives to stick with the Plan of God. That is the kind of person Philemon was to Paul and to others around him.
When you talk to other people who may be undergoing adversity and difficulty in their lives, they may see your genuine concern. You can then have a good talk and share divine viewpoint principles from the Word of God. You can be a source of encouragement to them. That should make you want to be a better Christian so you can continue to help and encourage people.
Your belief in the Word of God is very important. This includes the realization that God has problem-solving devices that work in your life. It also includes the faith belief that they will work. This belief and application form the basis for encouragement as you meet with other believers and share consolation, challenge, comfort and encouragement. It is something that enables them to want to live with a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. By the grace of God through the power of His Spirit, you can have that effect on others lives and they can have that effect on your life.
One of the greatest sources of encouragement I receive as a pastor-teacher is to see the loyalty and faithfulness of my congregation. This is especially true for those in consistent attendance of weekday home Bible classes for so many years. It is an encouragement to see hosts and hostesses willing to open their home for Bible classes. The sacrifice involves moving furniture, making room for chairs, setting up so we can have a Bible class, and putting everything away after class. The congregation's assistance with these activities is also an encouragement to the host and hostess. This helping attitude causes our own problems and difficulties to seem a lot lighter and less important. Remember, this function of helping other believers is a part of your ambassadorship. The ministry of encouragement is also an important part of your ambassadorship.
You can have that effect on my life. I can have that effect on your life under God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to minister encouragement. Before we can do so, we must apply our mental energies to the job of understanding exactly how we can perform this important ministry for each other.
Encouragement is a natural expression or testimony of the believer's spiritual life to others around him. Someone who helps, challenges, consoles and gives comfort and encouragement to others is a benefit and a help to them. It is this outward manifestation of unconditional love that helps other believers to rely on God's problem-solving devices through divine truth even when life is rough.