When was the last time someone really encouraged you? Maybe it was a family member or friend. How did it make you feel? How did you view yourself afterwards? If you haven’t been encouraged in a while, how greatly do you long for it?
Encouragement is powerful! It has the ability to change emotions and trajectories. It has the power to fill someone with courage and boldness to say yes to the plans and heart of God. Encouragement is truly a gift we’ve been given for edifying each other. We are meant to encourage one another. The Bible makes it clear that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are meant to both give and receive encouragement. Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Have you ever thought about how you could change the day of a complete stranger just with a few kind words? Jesus knew the power of encouragement. He loved to use the tool of encouragement to direct his disciples into the life God intended for them. Jesus spoke life into the people he encountered. He encouraged the outcasts, the downhearted, the needy. A perfect example of the power of encouragement can be found in the story of Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10 reads:
“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'”
Jesus encouraged an outcast tax collector and changed the trajectory of his life. He simply told Zacchaeus that he wanted to spend time with him, followed through with that commitment, and the entire town was blessed. Zacchaeus got his income through overtaxing his own people for the benefit of Rome and himself. He was cast out from society and hated by those around him. Jesus, to the dismay of the others, encouraged Zacchaeus, spent time with him, and changed his life.
You can live like Jesus today. Who needs an encouraging word from you? Who needs to be encouraged by you simply wanting to spend some time with them? There’s grace on your life to minister to the hurting and lonely around you. There’s grace to minister like Jesus. Walk in relationship with your heavenly Father, live with the knowledge that you are fully loved, and love others through the power of encouragement.