I love the New Testament idea of encouragement. There are two ideas that come together and give us a more complete picture of what it is we are trying to do when we encourage someone.
The first idea carries with it the concept of comfort. I think of a hand on a shoulder and some words to strengthen a brother. The second idea comes from the Greek word protrepo, where we find the origin of our English word propel. When I think about propel or propulsion, I think about exerting force to create movement.
As a pastor, much of my ministry is the ministry of encouragement. Encouragement is a hand on a shoulder and a comforting word. But it is also often a kick in the backside or a push to get someone unstuck and moving forward.
Encouragement is a hand on a shoulder and a comforting word. But it is also often a kick in the backside or a push to get someone unstuck and moving forward.
In this verse in 2 Timothy 3:14,”But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it,” the Apostle Paul is exhorting and encouraging a young, discouraged, lonely leader: Keep going! You are doing a good job. He has a strong hand on his shoulder but also, with his words, he is exerting force to move young Timothy back into a dynamic faith.
I’m sure no one has told you this recently, but when it comes to being a follower of Jesus, you are smashing it out of the park! All of the time you have invested in others, all of the hard work you have given to the advancement of the kingdom and the building up of the church, all of the time spent on your knees praying, weeping and interceding for the lost. Well done. Thank you. I’m sure you are tired, even weary, discouraged from the long transformational journey of discipleship, and I’m sure your knees hurt. So be encouraged today. You are doing great work.
I want to put a hand on your shoulder and celebrate God’s work in your life and your faithful participation in the mission of Jesus. You are loved, appreciated, and I’m so thankful for the man that God has made you to be.
Don’t Give Up
I also want to give you a push, to help you keep moving forward, to keep going, or as Paul writes to Timothy – to continue!
Being a Christian feels like a boxing match. I have some amazing news for you…that was only round one. You have at least another twelve rounds to go! Whatever you do, don’t give up.
Young Timothy, a pastor and leader in a New Testament church wanted to quit. His calling was a tough one. But these words of wisdom were given to him from his spiritual father and friend: You know who you are, you know what you are about, you know what I am about, now take a deep breath and let’s get back into the fight.
If I were your coach today, I would say exactly that same thing to you. You know who you are, you have been called by God, and you know what you are about. To refocus on your values and remember what is important. Finally, remember someone who has shown you how to live for Jesus. Let their lives inspire you to get back in the fight today.
Prayer: God, speak to my identity today and use that to call me back into the game. Help me keep going. I trust you. Lead me.