"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.
Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
Are you an encourager? If someone were to describe you would they say, "She is an encouraging person to be around?"
Even if this is not your primary personality characteristic, we are all called to encourage one another. However, it always surprises me at how many people find this difficult to do. We don't give it much thought even though so many really could use an encouraging word. Some people feel loved when they hear words of affirmation. You may appreciate them but if you never say it, how will they know? This passage lists a few specific types of people we are to encourage.
We are to encourage the body of Christ - Do you tell fellow believers how much you appreciate them? When was the last time you went up to the worship leader at church or one of the deaconesses or the people who work with the teens or children and thanked them? All of these jobs require quite a bit of preparation and thought and yet so often, they are never thanked.
When someone is missing from church for a couple of weeks, do you call them or drop them a note and let them know they are missed? Or do you think that it is the pastor's job to do that?
We are to encourage our pastor - Have you told your pastor recently that you appreciate him? As the wife of a minister, I know how much work goes into this call. Not only does He prepare for a weekly sermon and small group, but he visits people in the hospital, does funerals, counsels and is available when people want to call and chat. Have you let your pastor know how much you are learning from him? Do you show him respect or do you just complain about him when he says something you don't like? Paul stresses to his readers that we are to honor our pastor.
We are to encourage those who are timid - Some people are natural born leaders and others are not. Some are very fearful of public speaking or stepping out of their comfort zone to do something different. Do you offer words of encouragement when they do this? If someone is fearful of something, yet never hears an encouraging word, do you think they will ever do that difficult thing again? Let's encourage those who are not as confident as us.
We are to encourage the weak – In any given church there are a few people who are in bad health. Have you sent them a card or given them a call lately? Do you give them a hug and a sincere smile and welcome when you do see them? Do you let them know you are praying for them?
There are also those in our pews who may be weak in faith. They are baby believers. They are still learning. Do you encourage them to grow? Are you willing to be understanding when they react in ways that still reflect that old nature? Do you pray with them? Do you offer them advice and encouragement? Do you make them feel welcome? Offering encouragement to the weak can actually help give them strength,
Let's work hard at being known as encouragers. Let others know how much you love and appreciate them by telling them with your words. Let the words, "I appreciate you" be quick to come from your lips. And let's build each other up so that we all feel loved and like we belong.