“Encourage one another and build one another up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Have you ever heard the expression, “Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle you know nothing about?”
There’s a lot of truth to this statement.
For example, I was shocked when I heard about the sudden death of Chadwick Boseman, the star of blockbuster films such as Black Panther and 42. I had no idea that the 43-year-old actor had been battling colon cancer for several years. He had effectively hidden his diagnosis from the public eye. Even more remarkable is that his coworkers and yes, even his fellow Avengers, had no idea that he was suffering.
Boseman’s case is a stark reminder that people around us are often facing challenges that we’re simply unaware of. Granted, it might not be a terminal health issue, but everyone’s dealing with something, for the unseen battles of life come in all shapes and sizes.
Are you fighting your own private battles right now?
The church in Thessalonica also faced its share of struggles, though they weren’t necessarily unseen. As a baby church trying to take their first steps, they encountered severe persecution (2:14) and were fighting to stay morally pure in a pagan culture (4:1).
Paul knew exactly what they needed in the midst of their troubles: encouragement.
Biblically speaking, to encourage someone means to come alongside another person and fill them with comfort and confidence. This, in turn, enables them to stay on course in their Christian walk.
Paul encourages the believers in Thessalonica with two glorious, theological truths:
They will live forever with the Lord after they die (4:17)
They have been saved from His coming wrath (5:9)
Initially, this might sound like an odd way to encourage someone. But think about it. Paul is instilling comfort and confidence. He assures them of their ultimate victory in and through Jesus Christ.
Can there be anything more encouraging than fully embracing this victorious reality?
With these truths in mind, Paul wants the Thessalonians to encourage each other (5:11).
Notice he doesn’t merely suggest the idea of encouragement. He commands it. As a body of believers, it’s imperative that they support each other amidst the battles of everyday life, creating a genuine community of continuous, life-giving encouragement.
And the same goes for us today.
Paul’s command to encourage one another should dramatically impact the way we treat those around us. Imagine how different our homes, offices, churches, and neighborhoods would be if we put Paul’s words into practice on a regular basis.
In a world where people are constantly tearing each other down, followers of Jesus should build each other up. When so many are worn down by private, personal struggles, Christians are called to bless and strengthen each other with their words.
Pastor Craig Groeschel summarizes, “We have no idea how God might use one single word of encouragement to change someone’s life.”
Our encouragement might be exactly what a person needs to hear in order to keep fighting their unseen battle.
Find someone to encourage.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH
Live it out
When was the last time you intentionally encouraged someone? If you’re like me, you love the idea of encouraging others, but neglect to live it out. Don’t wait any longer. Find one person to encourage before the day is through.