FOUR WAYS TO BUILD UP YOUR FRIENDS.
THEREFORE ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER AND BUILD EACH OTHER UP, JUST AS IN FACT YOU ARE DOING. - 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11
The words in the Bible are for us.
They’re for growing our deep love for our Father. They’re for helping us know him more intimately, for showing us the grand sweep of his work in the world, and they’re for helping us live beautiful, purposeful lives, just to name a few things. And isn’t that what we all want for ourselves, to live with feeling, understanding, and actions that are right and lovely?
So, I read and study and journal and pray over the words of God.
I don’t always go microscopic on my studies, but I did this time with the word “encourage”. And I have to tell you that I found such practical insight into what it means to be an encourager, that I just had to share it with you. Moreover, I have a fun surprise for you at the end of this post that is going to blow you away! So, go with me a little deeper into this word, “encourage”, so you too can discover what it means to be a great encouragement to those around you.
All words have nuances. To me the english word, “encourage”, carries the idea of cheering someone up by doing or saying nice things to them. Because our word, “encourage”, is a translated word, we sometimes miss the nuances or slightly different shades of meaning that the word would have originally carried. But, these are easy to discover! We can look to multiple translations to quickly find some of those subtleties. Our word “encourage” is alternately translated in other versions as comfort, exhort, and console. Another way of seeing the fullness of the word is to look up the definition of the original word. Now this might sound high falutin’, but websites such as biblehub.com make it super easy to do all of this like a homegrown Bible scholar. And our word “encourage” is defined with words such as intercede, advise, advocate, and help. So, I grouped all of these words together into four categories. And I want to flesh out how these subtle variations in meaning give us some great practical insight into how we can be better encouragers. Take a look with me
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Exhort / Advise
Exhorting a friend means that we’re strongly encouraging them to do some good thing, something they were made to do, something we just know would benefit them or others. But we really shouldn’t stop there, should we? Our friend might need an action plan or some good ideas on how to move forward. Now, none of us likes a bossy-pants, but I for one sometimes need a little fire under me to get me going! We all need a good cheerleader, encouraging us to do that hard, scary thing that God is asking us to do. And more likely than not, we need some plain old, good advice on how to go about it. So don’t be afraid once in a while to give your friend a good push when they’re feeling stuck.
Comfort / Console
When a friend experiences loss or when life simply pulls the rug out from under them, there’s a special kind of encouragement that’s required of us. We need to comfort and console them. We don’t even necessarily need to say words. But we do need to listen and to sit and to wait. We need to hold our friend’s hand (metaphorically and even literally). There are things in life that I know I could’ve never made it through without the comforting encouragement of a friend by my side. Be that kind of friend.
Advocate / Defend
The original word “encourage” was often used as a legal term for lawyers defending their clients. Isn’t that a helpful picture image of a lawyer advocating for his client? This is how we should see ourselves, as our friend’s representative, holding their best interests in our hearts, being loyal to them when they come under attack. We should advocate for them to others and speak well of them. And when we hear someone gossip about our friend, we should be first in line to defend them.
I love this catch-all word. Sometimes we think of encouragement as merely speaking kind words. I know this is the connotation that I am most likely to think of. But the idea of helping our friend is the perfect all-inclusive action word. It quite simply means “do something to make your friend’s life easier”.
That brings me to my AHA moment!
The word “help” is the verb form of the noun, “helper”. Can you think of someone who is called the “Helper” in the Bible? Remember when Jesus tells his disciples that he will send a “Helper” who will be with them forever, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16)? That same word “Helper” is the noun form of our word “encourage”. Don’t miss the significance here! It’s so important. We have a Helper, the very Spirit of God, who is our own personal encourager. He advises, comforts, and advocates for us. He is the perpetual wellspring of our inner life. And the most beautiful thing is how that spring overflows when we encourage others. The Holy Spirit equips us with his power to work at this holy calling of friendship. He gives us wisdom to advise, compassion to comfort, courage to defend, and strength to help. We are not alone, left to muster up the power to be good friends. We have the great Helper of our souls working in us, building us up and equipping us to do the same for others.
Are you more likely to advise, comfort, defend, or help your friends?
How can you grow in the areas where you are less comfortable in encouraging others?
How does knowing you have the Holy Spirit give you confidence in those more uncomfortable or difficult relationships?
What is one thing you could do to dig more deeply into your studies of God’s Word?
Thanks for reading,
Meet Natalie,Dwell co-founder
Hi there, I'm Natalie! I'm so glad you're here. I'd love to connect with you to hear more about what God is doing in your life!
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