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Therefore -> Encourage

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encourage one another in season and out of season.

THEREFORE ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER AND BUILD EACH OTHER UP, JUST AS IN FACT YOU ARE DOING.  - 1 THESSALONIANS 5:11

 

I love, love, love this verse.   

It’s just practical. It says, “Do this. Encourage people and build them up.” It tells us we need full-on community, people who love us and know us and build us up.  And it says that we, in turn, can make a difference in their lives, building into them and loving them well. I simply cannot wait to talk with you about all of the hands-on applications of this verse. But before we do, I want to answer this really important question, “Why?” Why build each other up? What motivates this behavior? Is there something deeper than just knowing it’s the right thing to do? I think the answer is hiding behind one easily overlooked word.   

“Therefore”.    

“Therefore” always reveals meaning. It’s a joining word, connecting the thoughts before it with the thoughts that follow it. We know that whatever comes before “therefore” is the cause or the reason behind whatever follows the word. To make this connection more obvious, we could retranslate our verse this way: “Because of what we’ve already discussed, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Soooo… let’s look back at the previous verses to get the answers to our questions. Heck, you could read the whole book of 1 Thessalonians to really get the gist of it; it’s short. But ‘til you do, here’s what it says: Life is hard. Live faithfully. You are not abandoned.   


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In hard times, encourage each other.   

The book of 1 Thessalonians is a letter. Paul, the missionary, writes it to his brothers and sisters in Thessalonica after spending just a few short weeks with them telling them about Jesus, teaching them how to live as Christians and just loving the heck out of ‘em. While he’d have loved to stay longer, his departure was sped up by an angry mob who violently disagreed with his teachings. And once Paul was gone, these new baby Christians were left all alone with the angry naysayers. Ouch! THEREFORE, Paul says to them, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” He tells them to band together in the face of adversity. They need each other, they’ve got the whole world against them, so they’d better be totally for each other. And, don’t we find this to be true today? We all need people in our corner rooting us on, especially when it feels like the whole world is out to get us. Just like the Thessalonians, we need a tight group of like-minded friends who will bolster us along when things get tough.   

For Godly living, encourage each other.   

The Thessalonians were completely green in the faith. Other than what Paul had originally taught them, they had absolutely no idea what God might require for holy living. They had no background or prior knowledge, so Paul teaches them many things in this letter. But, they don’t just need good teaching, they need one another in order to live it out. THEREFORE, Paul says, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” They need accountability! They need a committed community of people holding one another up and keeping on the right track together. And just like those people of old, we too need accountability. We need people who are in it with us, who are committed to living out a faithful lifestyle and who challenge us to do the same.   

In times of loneliness, encourage each other.   

All throughout the letter, Paul writes of his enduring affections for the Thessalonians, of his plans to see them, of his longing for their well-being. He wants them to know that despite distance, he has not abandoned them. And Jesus has not abandoned them either. THEREFORE, Paul says, “Encourage one another and build each other up.” Though the Thessalonians may have felt at times abandoned by Paul and by Jesus himself, they could encourage one another that this simply was not the case. Don’t we need this reminder too? In this world, where we can feel deserted by God, where we can tend towards loneliness and isolation, we need others to encourage us in the truth. We are not alone or abandoned! We are loved and longed for by the God of the universe who calls us to himself and will one day return to make all things right. This is our greatest hope, the hope of Jesus himself.      

In all things, encourage one another. 

We were not made to do life alone, we were meant to walk together in community, building each other up. Our faith communities should be our strength in hard times, our accountability in daily living, and the constant reminder that our Lord has not left us, for he has given us one another. But, this list of times and reasons for encouragement isn’t exhaustive. We should be the kind of people who celebrate others’ successes, and the silent shoulder in times of loss. We should commend and affirm those above and those below us in the pecking order. In domestic tasks, in service, in gathering, in competitions, and in celebrations, let us be the encouragers of all people. in all things let us encourage one another and build each other up, reflecting the great Encourager of our souls, Jesus. 

How have you felt built up in hard times by someone? 

How can you encourage someone in faithful living without seeming judgemental? 

How can you help someone feel like they are not alone or abandoned?

Thanks for reading,

Natalie Abbott Bio

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