Sermon Summary (May 15, 2016)
Pastor Tim Tseng
Encourage One Another
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
MAIN POINT: Encouragement gives us courage to trust God and keep our faith commitments in the face of challenging circumstances and future uncertainties. It keeps us going and growing as disciples of Jesus over the long haul. According to Sittser, the Greek word for encouragement stresses “the need to help fellow believers persist in faith and live as disciples. If believers flag in zeal and lose heart, we exhort them. If they struggle with a problem and stumble in their walk with God, we build them up. If they face loss and disappointment, we comfort them…We need encouragement when wearing out, we need maintenance to keep going.”
1. The difference between encouraging and strengthening:
- Encourage and build up (strengthen) are often associated with each other in the Bible. For example, God’s command to Moses regarding Joshua “commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” – Deuteronomy 3:28 (NIV)
- Strengthen (building up) = training and preparation.
- Encourage = maintenance to keep going and growing
2. Caveat: Tethered Encouragement
For Christians, encouragement is not simply helping people to follow their bliss, or be their personal best, or achieve their goals. Countering the excessive individualism in our culture which often leads to untethered experiences (e.g., secularized marriage is just about husband and wife without connection to faith community), Christian encouragement assumes that people thrive best when they are encouraged within a faith community. It focuses on going along the path of discipleship and growing in Christ.
3. Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement
The greatest example of encouragement in the bible is Joseph, who was nicknamed Barnabas (the son of encouragement). When the church faced its first great threat, Barnabas sold his property and shared its proceeds with the early believers so that no one would be in need. Later, he was the first to welcome the newly converted Paul into the community. Barnabas also accompanied Paul as a partner in ministry.
4. How we can join Team Barnabas? Very simple…
- Have empathy and observe well.
- Look for people who need encouragement (the faithful church volunteer, the visitors, the lonely, etc.).
- Give them a note of appreciation. Do this every week (and every day if possible).
- Make use of kind words: “One kind word can warm three winter months. (Japanese Proverb); “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)
- Next level – be a coach or mentor. Remind them that they are serving the Lord, thus, struggle is expected; but support is available.
5. And if we don’t feel encouraged by our brothers or sisters in Christ?
- Rely on the Holy Spirit, whose central purpose is to encourage us (Acts 9:31).