Encouragement seems like it would have a pretty straightforward meaning and it does. Yet, there is more to encouragement than just patting someone on the back, saying ‘good job,’ or giving out a thumbs up. All those are nice, but what is encouragement and what should it do for us and others?
Definition of Encouragement
Here is Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary definition:
- 1a: to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : HEARTEN she was encouraged to continue by her early success
- b: to attempt to persuade : URGE they encouraged him to go back to school
- 2: to spur on : STIMULATE warm weather encourages plant growth
- 3: to give help or patronage to : FOSTER government grants designed to encourage conservation
Inspiration for Life Today has 4 words that comprise our theme- Inspiration, Encouragement, Imagination, and Enthusiasm. In the blog, Inspiration For Life Today, we looked at Inspiration, its definition, and how to live an inspired life. As you see here, inspiration is part of encouragement!
To encourage is to breathe the breath of God into someone imparting courage, spirit, or hope! Here is the origin of encourage: early 15c., from Old French encoragier “make strong, hearten,” from en- “make, put in” (see en- (1)) + corage “courage, heart” (see courage).
Encouragement makes or ‘puts in’ strength and courage or, heart. You are putting your heart and God’s into someone else.
Inspiration is about the breath. Encouragement is about the heart.
In the natural, we must have breath and blood circulating. The heart moves oxygen and blood throughout our bodies. In the spiritual, the Holy Spirit is the very breath of God living inside us and the blood of Jesus poured out for us and pulsing through us when we are born again, combines two powerful forces necessary for life in the natural and the spiritual – breath and blood.
When we are born again spiritually, the blood of Jesus cleanses us and the breath the of Holy Spirit dwells inside us – new life and new breath. New Inspiration and Encouragement.
What is Encouragement in the Bible?
Encouragement is words and actions. The action and example of another person can inspire and encourage me. If I see that someone else maintained their hope and faith in a trial, I’m encouraged that I can do the same.
Others encourage us with their words, spoken or written. Words bring hope, life, peace, inspiration, and encouragement to people every day. What does the Word of God have to say about encouragement?
Psalm 31;24 ESV, Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
John 16:33 ESV, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
1 Corinthians 16:13 GNT, Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 GNT, And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.
Romans 15:4-5 GNT, Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. And may God, the source of patience and encouragement, enable you to have the same point of view among yourselves by following the example of Christ Jesus,
Romans 1:11-12 ESV, For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Why Is Encouragement Important?
These are just a few of the verses about encouragement in the Bible. They should be enough to help us see how important it is to be encouraged and to be an encourager. In fact, we have the ability to encourage and inspire ourselves!
Jude 1:20-21 ESV says this, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
We can build ourselves up, encourage ourselves, and inspire ourselves through prayer in the Holy Spirit. When we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will pray for and through us – Romans 8:26 ESV, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.“
Not only can we build ourselves up, but the Holy Spirit will also step in and strengthen us in our weakness, even praying for us when we don’t know what to say!
What is encouragement? It is heart, breath, intercession, strengthening, courage, and so much more. Encouragement is vital to our lives in Christ.
Jesus the Greatest Encourager
Matthew 11:29-30 HCSB, “All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus encourages us to learn from Him, that He is gentle, humble in heart, and promises rest for our soul. His yoke is easy and His burden is light! He is imparting hope, promises of rest, revelation of who He is, and imparting strength as He talks about His yoke. A yoke indicates servitude but not a huge burden. He is encouraging us to be like Him – the servant of all.
John 14:12 CJB, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that whoever trusts in me will also do the works I do! Indeed, he will do greater ones, because I am going to the Father.”
Jesus encouraged all His followers to trust in Him and to have faith. With that faith and trust, He said we can do greater things than He did! He was imparting power to us and encouraging us in to grow in our faith.
Acts 1:i HCSB, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This promise of ‘power’ is – “From dunamai; force; specially, miraculous power.” The Holy Spirit brings with Him a miracle-working power, dynamite, that abides in us! Jesus’ encouragement to us is to live in the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit!
There are many more encouragements Jesus gave us. As you read through the New Testament, make note of the encouraging statements Jesus made.
How To Be an Encourager
Encouragement can come in small and large packages. A note sent to someone telling them they are loved and remembered is encouragement. Telling someone you’ll be with them in their trial and then actually being there, helping, hugging, doing little things for them, and staying as long as they need you is encouragement.
Encouragement can also be a hug or telling someone you love them. Asking someone out for lunch or going for a walk with them can be an encouragement. Telling them how well they did something.
What Encouragement Is
Encouragement is actions or words that let another person know they are not invisible, that they matter, that they are important and needed and that their lives are a vital part of your life and the lives of many others.What is Encouragement? Encouragement is actions or words that let another person know they are not invisible, that they matter, that they are important and needed and that their lives are a vital part of your life and the lives of… Click To Tweet
People know when encouragement is not genuine. Empty words don’t encourage. True encouragement involves putting part of you into them – sharing your heart, your life and breath with them. Words of encouragement only work when they’re genuine and contain your heart and God’s.
Anyone can say – good job – and not mean it or really care. Loose words, easily thrown can be hurtful even though that isn’t the intention. Genuine encouragement is a breath of life to people. Insincerity is not.What is Encouragement? Anyone can say – good job – and not mean it or really care. Loose words, easily thrown can be hurtful even though that isn't the intention. Genuine encouragement is a breath of life to people. Insincerity is… Click To Tweet
I’m sure you know when you’ve brought encouragement, strength, courage, peace, hope, or relief to someone. Encouragement is powerful and very needed. In fact, even people who seem to be doing well, are strong, and not in need may also need encouragement – genuine words and actions.
The person who seems to need encouragement the least may actually need it the most!
What Encouragement Should Never Be
Encouragement should never be used for the purpose of manipulation but, sadly, sometimes it is. It’s used to curry favor with a boss or superior. It’s used to manipulate spouses or friends. It can be made to seem very sincere. Even acts of encouragement can be nothing more than manipulation.
The person receiving the false encouragement may not even know. However, sometimes they do know because it’s happened to them before and the results won’t be favorable for the manipulator who may think they’re really scoring points.
There is someone important who knows what’s really in your heart – God the Father through the Holy Spirit. There’s someone else who knows – you. We all know when we’re manipulating. We make excuses and try to tell ourselves we are not manipulating. However, deep down, we know the truth because the Holy Spirit is busy trying to convict us of our sin.
False encouragement used simply to manipulate is not a part of God’s character or of any example Jesus set for us. It is sin because it falls far short of the mark of Jesus.
The Gift of Encouragement
Encouraging others is a free exchange. You give part of yourself to someone else and Jesus gives all of Himself to you. Whatever we give multiplies and comes back. We get more than we give. A sacrifice of love opens us to receive more love from God.
Luke 6:38 TPT, “Give generously and generous gifts will be given back to you, shaken down to make room for more. Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! The measurement of your generosity becomes the measurement of your return.”
This verse is not about money. If you look at the context, Jesus was talking sacrificial giving of love and mercy to those who might not seem to deserve it – the kind of love and mercy He showed to us.
Then He’s talking about NOT JUDGING. If you give out judgment, guess what comes back? More judgment than you sent out! He goes on to talk about the fact that we each probably have a “plank” in the eye we use to judge someone who only has a splinter in theirs.
When you give encouragement, you don’t give to get. You give knowing that your reward is in heaven, not in the approval of man. Encouragement is an eternal thing.
Encouragement is a gift that gives back. There is satisfaction and peace when we know that we have truly encouraged another person in their moment of need. When we see others flourishing after we have genuinely encouraged them, there is an unseen reward. We know that we have walked in the example of our Savior.
As always, I pray that you have been encouraged about being an encourager! And that you receive encouragement when you are in need. Please email me and tell me about a time you’ve been encouraged or have encouraged someone else.
Live an inspired and encouraging life! And – here’s a little something extra – 100 Scriptures for Daily Encouragement. Print them and use them in your prayers, relationships, and for yourself.
You might also enjoy reading – Inspiration For Life Today
Inspiration For Life Today uses verses from different Bible translations. To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit this page – Scripture Citations.