Charles Stanley - Being An Encourager
Who is the encourager in your life? The person who supports you when you need it? The person who stimulates your mind and your thinking to say you can keep going? The person who sort of fires you up? Motivates you when you need to be fired up motivated? Everybody needs an encourager. And the truth is all of us need to be encouragers. There are people you and I need to encourage. And all of us need to be encouraged because all of us go through those times in our life whatever the situation may be where we may feel a little bit down or maybe some experience came along that, that disappointed us. Maybe disappointed in somebody else.
So, whatever it might be, everybody needs encouragement. And when I think over my life, I can tell you who was the most powerful, consistent, encourager in my life. My mother. She encouraged me even when she whipped me. Because she reminded me of why she was doing it. I was not impressed at all at the moment, but as I look back and realize what she was saying. She was saying this because, "I want you to grow up and be a good boy". Or, "I want you to learn not to disobey me". But of all the people I've ever known she was always there for me no matter what. And I wonder if you're that kind of encourager to anybody. Is there anybody in your life that's always going to be standing there no matter what happens? Because we all need somebody like that, all of us do. And sometimes, we think we can't keep going and you want to give up and quit. No child of God ever needs to give up and quit.
And I thought, what could be more helpful and more encouraging than to title this message "Being An Encourager". We all need to be and we all need it for ourselves. So, I want you to turn if you will to first Thessalonians chapter five. First Thessalonians chapter five and the Apostle Paul in these first ten verses is explaining and encouraging the people in Thessalonica about the return of Christ and what there to expect and so forth. And then he comes down to verse eleven, "Therefore, on the basis of all I just told you, therefore encourage one another build up one another, just as you also are doing". Then if you slip down to verse thirteen, "And that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We encourage you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone".
And so, Paul talks about encouragement in lots of ways. But I want us to think about it in terms of how we not only need encouragement but we need to be an encourager. And if you look, in the Greek language for example, the word that is used for encourager is the word Parakletos. "Para" means "beside," "kletos," "call". And so, an encourager is one who is called to be by your side. When Jesus spoke with His disciples the night before He was crucified in this fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth chapters of John He said, "I'm leaving you," but this is the way He encouraged them. He told them that other things are going to happen. He said, "I'm going to send you an encourager," a Parakletos. That is the Holy Spirit.
So that He was very much aware of their need of being encouraged because He called them. They walked with Him for three years. And then He's saying, "I'm leaving". Besides that, the way I'm going to leave is not going to be very pleasant. But I want you to know that I'm going to be with you because I'm going to send you one like me and He's going to be with you, a Parakletos, a helper, Jesus called. So, when I look at that passage and think about what Jesus said encouraging His disciples, I think about Jesus Himself.
So, let's think about it for a moment. Jesus was an awesome encourager, and if you'll think about how He encouraged, He encouraged in His teachings, but also, He was an encourager in His encounter with other people. He was always encouraging. Didn't mean that He didn't say some strong things but he was an encourager to them. For example, let's just think about what He taught. When He gave them the Sermon on the Mount, what an encouragement that was to them to hear Him say all these wonderful things. When He talked about prayer for example, He said we could pray and expect and answer. "Ask and it should be given you; seek and you should find; knock and it should be open to you". When He talked for example about forgiveness. He talked about forgiving others just the way He had forgiven us. And then when He talked about anxiety. "Don't be anxious about anything". But He talked about the birds and the flowers and so forth. Everywhere Jesus had the opportunity, what was He doing? He was encouraging His disciples even when He had to mix that with the future of things that were going to happen and the way people treated us and so forth. He was always underlying it with a word of encouragement.
So, when you think about the things that He said, He was always encouraging. But what about the way He acted? What about His actions for example? And so, can you imagine how encouraging it was when they were out in the storm and they thought they were going to sink? And they saw this light and then here's Jesus. Not swimming, praise God! He was walking on the water. Coming to them to do what? To rescue them and to encourage them. "Be not afraid". And then I think about when Jesus was walking along and He was on His way to Jerusalem. He wasn't going to come back this way again and here's old blind Bartimaeus, a poor blind beggar, ragged beggar sitting on the roadside and he heard that Jesus was coming and he began to cry out, "Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me".
And they tried to tell him. You're talking about a discourager now. The folks around him were doing their best to discourage Bartimaeus and the more they said shut-up, the louder he got, until finally, Jesus stopped. And He said to Bartimaeus, "'Bartimaeus, what do you want me to do for you?' Bartimaeus said, 'I want you to give me my sight.'" And He gave him exactly what he asked for. Jesus encouraged people in all kinds of ways, healing Bartimaeus. And then, think about this: When the news came that Lazarus, His friend had died and Mary and Martha got a little upset that He didn't show up on their schedule. And so, what do you think? They weren't encouraged. They were very discouraged. They said, "Jesus if you had been here, if you had been here, he wouldn't have died".
Now, that wasn't an expression of faith. But what they didn't understand that Jesus had a better plan. I love this. Jesus had a better plan. He let him die, put him in a tomb and sealed the tomb. And all He had to say is, "Lazarus come forth". And think about this. The reason Jesus said, "Lazarus come forth". This is just my personal opinion, if He hadn't said, "Lazarus come forth," every dead person that ever died would have come forth. "Lazarus, come forth". And imagine how encouraging that was to everybody around. Can you imagine that? They told their children, their grandchildren, their great, great grandchildren, and you know what? Two thousand years we still talking about it. What a word of encouragement. What an act of encouragement.
Jesus was this awesome encourager. He could find ways to encourage situations and circumstances when nobody else could. But when I think about the Apostle Paul, he was an awesome encourager. Because he had indwelling him the great encourager, the Holy Spirit. He is just as real and true today as then. He'll do just what you and I need Him to do in our life today just like He did in their lives. He's the encourager. And He indwells us. And it's interesting that Jesus called Him that. He said, "I'm going to send you a helper, the parakletos. The one who stands beside you, who's there for you. You can, you can count on it".
And then I think about the how the Apostle Paul encouraged, and all the letters he wrote. Think about this for a moment. He wrote the book of Romans. He wrote all of these books I am going to talk about. The book of Romans, he encourages us by saying, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord". To the Galatians he wrote, "The Holy Spirit who lives within you will manifest through you what you can't do yourself: love and peace and joy and goodness and all the rest".
When I think about what he said to the Corinthians, he said, "I want to describe to you what's going to happen in the resurrection. I want to talk to you, I want to encourage you about your loved ones who've gone on before and I want to encourage you about when your time comes your body will go to the grave but your spirit will go into the presence of Almighty God". And then I think about what he said to the Ephesians, how he encouraged them. And encouraged them by saying, "You were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world". And then he followed that by saying that the Holy Spirit "has sealed you as a child of God".
Imagine how encouraging that must have been to them. And then I think what he wrote to the Philippians. "My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus". And to the Colossians speaking of the family, to encourage the father, the mother, the children and so forth. And when I think about how he went about encouraging everybody. And of course, to the Thessalonians, he talked about when death comes. What's going to happen so forth, he encouraged them. And then to Timothy, he wrote to Timothy both of those epistles were encouraging times for Timothy. So, look, Jesus who is our Savior, great encourager. The Apostle Paul, the great apostle was a great encourager.
So, I would ask you, is there anybody who knows you would say that you are an encourager? Anybody you live with? Anybody you work for? Anybody you work with? Any of, would your friends deem you an encourager? Not just somebody that you work with or somebody that you know or a neighbor this, that or even a good friend. Do they see you as an encourager? Can you in your mind identify instantly who is an encourager in your life? You may be seated here this morning and you may be one of those persons who says, "I can't think of anybody like that". Well, think real hard. It may true that you grew up in a situation of circumstances and nobody has ever encouraged you.
Now you may not even be a Christian. Well, I'm going to tell you why Jesus is an encourager, because He got you here this morning to hear this message. And I want to tell you how to be saved in a few moments. And so that your life will never be the same again so that ought to be an encouragement to you. And even if you are a Christian and you listen to this message, you ought to begin to be a, watch this, a purposeful encourager. That you intend to be, that you want to be. And that you by your speech and by your actions like Jesus and the Apostle Paul, you want to be an encourager or likewise.
So, when I think about that, I think about how does a person become an encourager. What do you say? What do you do to be an encourager? There's two ways to encourage: by your speech and by your actions. And so, first, I want to talk about in just a moment. I want to talk about your speech. How do you encourage somebody? And I would encourage you to write these down. You can choose the ones you want, of course. And I want you to think about for just a moment, who in your life this moment, right now, that you know, needs encouragement. You got that? You may be thinking, "Well, here I sit. I need it". Okay, fine.
So, first of all, I want to talk about how to encourage people in your speech. This is not, this is not a final list. This is just a suggested list. So, I want to begin by saying one of the way that you can encourage somebody is by a sincere compliment. When you love people and you accept people, you want them to know it. And so, you give them a sincere compliment. Maybe how they look, what they said, what they did, how they perform, all those things. Secondly, always tell them the truth. If you're going to be an encourager, you have to speak the truth. Now, the truth is not always easy for some people to accept. But if you're a true friend, a real encourager, you speak the truth. You speak it in a manner in which they can accept it.
Thirdly, you agree with them when appropriate. If in a conversation, you need to express your feeling about something, if you're a true friend, you agree with them when it's appropriate. If it's not, you don't have to agree with them. Then of course, if you're true friend you pass on information to them that is helpful. Not gossip but information. A true friend is going to pass on to others maybe something that they're working on or something about their job or something about their car, about their children, whatever it might be. You, in other words, you don't keep information to yourself. And I think as I think about my friends and people who are the closest to me, I love listening to them and what they're learning. And I love telling them what I'm learning and passing on helpful information. Then, one for certain, you pray for them. If you really have a true friend, if you really want to be an encouragement, you pray for them.
Now, please don't raise your hand but let me ask you as question. I wonder how many people seated here have a prayer list. I don't mean all the things you want but a prayer list of people you pray for at least every day or some time of the part of the day or often whenever you pray. So, people you pray for. Well, if you do, if you don't have that list you need to develop one today and you want to encourage people? Only when you can honestly say, "I've been praying for you. I prayed for you yesterday. I prayed for you last night. I've been praying for you". Listen, when you're praying for people, you're encouraging them. Then, you might want to quote another, an appropriate Scripture.
Well, you know what? Somebody is really worried about something and you say to them, "Don't be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication," and so forth. You encourage them with a word of Scripture. Then, you correct them when appropriate in a warm and friendly way. In other words, we all make mistakes. And somebody can correct me if I've done something wrong or said something wrong or whatever it might be. In other words, if a person has the right spirit and the right attitude, they take it as a compliment that you would do it. Then of course, watch this. Tell them that you love them. I tell my friends, especially the men, I love them. And most of the time when we meet together for some reason or just come, whatever is going on. I say to them, "I love you". And I don't say it out of habit. I say it out of my heart because I genuinely love them.
And, watch this: Some people can't say that. And I think there's a reason they can't. Sometimes is because they don't feel love but sometimes they're shy. "Well, you mean if I tell another man that I love him, what does that mean"? It means you love him. That's what it means. And then, you comfort them when they need it. If you love somebody you want to say something comforting and not just, "Well, I'm praying for you". But when they say, "I'm really going to pray for you that God will show you what's going on". Then, assure them of your availability. If you say, "Look, if you need me, give me a buzz. If I can help you in any way, I'll do my best. I may not always be able to do what you need but I'll do my best. I'm available to help you in any way I can".
And there's sometimes you may have to be willing to say, "Well, you know, I just don't know. As a friend, I don't know how to do that. I wish I could but I don't know how". Well, one of the simplest way of expressing love is to say, "Thank you". Just express thank you. And I wonder how many husbands thank their wives for a good breakfast, a good meal, having their clothes cleaned, laid out or whatever it might be, keeping the house cleaned. In other words, then how many women say, "Thank you very much for giving me my automobile or making sure I've got plenty of fuel," or whatever may be going on, "Thank you for fixing this". And so, if you love somebody, you're going express it and there's lots of ways.
Now, there's a lot more ways that you can say "I love you" than that, but I just want to give you something to start with. And what about actions? Sometimes all it takes is a smile. You're saying something. Because watch. You can't, listen, if you're angry you can't even think anger and smile, but if you love somebody and you want to encourage them, maybe you're not close to them, but a smile. It says that you're thinking about them. One way to express love and express encouragement is to be quiet while they speak. Don't always interrupt them. Sometimes we just be quiet and just let them say what need to be said. And then one way to encourage somebody is to hug them.
Now, you have to be careful who you're hugging. I do understand that. But my friends, I hug them. And so, there's a way to hug somebody in a gentle way because you just love them. And it's sincere. Then you want to serve them in some fashion. If you have a real true friend, you want to encourage them. You find some way to serve them, to be helpful to them. And then you accept them just the way they are. If you want to be an encourager, listen, you can't shape someone else's character and nature to fit you. If you want to be an encourager, you accept them just the way they are. They're the way God made them. They're the way they are at this point in their life. You may see things that, that you want to change in their life. Well, they maybe want to see things in your life they want to change. But we just accept them the way they are and let God do whatever changing is necessary. And then, you always be honest with them at all times, even though it may hurt.
That is, if I want to encourage you, I'm not going to be a false witness to you. I'm not going to tell you that you're right when you're wrong. And then, if I'm an encourager, I'm going to point you in the right direction. This is the direction you need to go in in your life. You need to rethink this. And one thing for sure I'm going to do is I'm, watch this, I'm going to seek to motivate them to be their best in life no matter what they're doing. I want you to do your best. An encourager, "I want you to do your best". And they will do whatever is necessary to help you do that. And then, if at all possible, you may want to reward that person with something. Rewards work. And everybody needs to be, even if it's to say, "You did a fantastic job". And you mean it sincerely, that's a reward. Or you could give them something financially or whatever it might be.
Now think about this. Encouragement has kept a lot of people alive. Words of encouragement have kept a lot of people alive. Thought they were going to die, in the hospital, doctor said this is it. And you come to see them and you encourage them with whatever words, and you pray for them, and you say to them, "We're going to trust God. We're going to trust God through this. We're going to help you". We encourage them in any way we possibly can. And I think many people have been inspired to succeed in life by somebody's encouragement. I think most people who've succeeded in life, they'll tell you that so and so encouraged them at a particular time and they never forgot it. You see, it doesn't take a whole lot to be an encourager. So, all of us should be, because Jesus was and taught it. Paul was and taught it. And all of us need to be encouragers because we live in a world full of people who are discouraged. Amen?
And I want to say to you, if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, the most--the most life-changing thing that you'll ever do, the most wonderful thing that you'll ever do. The thing that has eternal consequences in your life. Right where you are, no matter where that may be, or seated here, you can say to the Lord Jesus, "I need Your encouragement. I need to ask You to forgive me of my sins. I do believe that Jesus went to the cross and died for my sins. And I'm asking You, Lord, to forgive me. I'm surrendering my life to You. And Lord, I do pray that You'll help me to be an encourager to someone else, as others have tried to be to me". Your life can be changed right where you are, right at this moment simply by asking for the forgiveness of your sins, placing your trust in Jesus as your personal Savior. Amen?
Father, how grateful we are You've never failed to be on time for our need of encouragement. You're always there. So, we just all would like to surrender ourselves to You afresh and anew today to be encouragers to the people we meet, the people who need us, to people who are hurting, the people who are lost. And we thank You for the privilege. In Jesus' name, amen.