Encourage One Another
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Are you discouraged? If all the news seems bad and you struggle to get through the day as winter drags on, could you use some reassurance? One of the benefits of living in Christian community is that we can encourage one another. We can notice when our brothers and sisters are starting to falter, and we can offer a word that uplifts and comforts. When the world seems at its darkest, we can remind each other that we are the light bearers, the message carriers, and the children of God. Only when we embrace the good news ourselves are we able to take it out into the world, empowered to be encouragers.
There are two positions from which a person can offer encouragement. One is from the outside, as an onlooker/bystander. Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone, wrote: “Mostly, my flying has been solo, but my preparation for it wasn’t. Without my husband’s help and encouragement, I could not have attempted what I have.” Encouragement from a loved one, a cheerleader, can empower us to attempt and often achieve things we never would have considered possible. Parents are, and should be, their children’s most vocal and enthusiastic encouragers. Spouses should lift one another up. Friends should reassure one another.
The second position from which to offer encouragement is alongside. The apostle Paul frequently referred to the Christian life as a race. “[M]y only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). “[L]et us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). If you’ve ever run a race, you might have appreciated the cheers and shouts of encouragement from the observers and bystanders. But you probably enjoyed even more the encouragement from a fellow runner, someone who knew what it felt like to be pounding the pavement, struggling toward the finish line, just like you.
When followers of Jesus encourage one another, we do so as runners alongside our brothers and sisters, experiencing the same challenges and the same victories. Sometimes we’re the ones who need encouragement; sometimes we can be the ones to offer it. The interesting thing is that what is offered as encouragement is received as hope, and in offering encouragement to others, we realize hope for ourselves. God offers us encouragement through scripture, prayer, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. As our Father and our Creator, he is our biggest cheerleader. Jesus offers us encouragement as a fellow runner: because he took on flesh for a time, he knows what it’s like to have to deal with all the challenges of being human—hunger, thirst, pain, weariness, temptation, even grief and death—and he is able to encourage us from alongside.
We are the light of the world. The salt of the earth. It can be disheartening to know that we will continue to struggle against powerful forces and the world will remain in darkness until Jesus returns, but our mission is clear: to carry the Good News of salvation to everyone who hasn’t heard it. To offer light and life and hope to those in desperate need of them. Take heart, and remember the words God spoke to many of his Old Testament faithful: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s Worship and nursery care available) and stay for Discovery Hour (all ages).