“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Paul had visited Thessalonica on his second missionary journey, but left hastily while under persecution. Paul traveled to Corinth where he wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica to encourage the new believers in their faith and to remind them that there is joy even in persecution, assuring them of their eternal life with Christ. This was one of Paul’s first letters, written about 20 years after Jesus’ death.
What does it mean to be an “encourager?” It isn’t saying “everything is going to be alright.” As Christians we know that there is pain and anguish in the world and that giving up everything for Christ isn’t an easy road. Instead, being an encourager is about building up another person’s faith and trust in God.
Tim Keller talks in Counterfeit Gods how we may be able to suppress an idol, but then another one just takes its place. Until we’ve replaced all our idols with God, we will never find rest. Just like replacing our idols, I need the collective voice of my Christian friends to drown out the voice of Satan that plays an endless tape in my head.
Satan’s voice: You’re not pretty enough.
My Christian friends: You are made in God’s image; you are beautiful.
Satan: You’ll never give up the sin in your life. You might as well give up trying and have a good time.
My Christian friends: God takes us back over and over and over again through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. We learn from our mistakes; we don’t have to be shackled by them forever.
Satan: You are getting too old to be a success. Life has passed you by.
My Christian friends: You are following what God has asked you to do and that pleases God. Don’t worry what others are accomplishing in the world or even for God, God’s plan for you is YOUR PLAN!
Satan: You shouldn’t hang around or talk to non-Christians. They are beneath you.
My Christian friends: Our role is to love God and lead a life that exemplifies God’s love for us.
Everyone is a child of God and deserves our love.
I am grateful for the “encouragers” in my life who drown out Satan’s voice in my head, reinforcing my faith so that I have the space to have a running conversation with God.
Are you an encourager? Is there someone today that you meet who will be encouraged by God’s love through you? Maybe it is your voice that will drown out Satan in their life.