Links Daily Devotional

True Encouragement

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)

Golf is a unique sport. We compete for the same prize, but there exists camaraderie between players to help each other improve their game. Steve Stricker is a wonderful example of offering such help when he recently gave Tiger Woods some suggestions with his putting, and then eventually lost to Tiger by two on Sunday. Stricker’s ability to offer encouragement is a reflection of his strength and dignity.

Today’s passage exhorts us to encourage one another daily. I have understood encouragement to be speaking positive words, giving affirmation, being a cheerleader, or giving a pep talk. It’s about making someone feel good during a difficult situation or affirming what he is doing well. I believe this is important and true; however, recently I learned there is more to encouragement and a reason why we need to offer it.

In the second half of Hebrews 3:13, the writer gave us the reason why: “…that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The evil one will use our struggles and failures to harden our hearts and turn us away from God’s love and forgiveness. Little by little, he wants to deceive us in believing we are not worthy of either.

What does it mean to encourage one another for the purpose of not being deceived? Dr. Dan Allender, author of The Wounded Heart, shares that encouragement exposes our daily struggle to move in the wrong direction (away from God) by “speaking truth into a person’s life for two things, to destroy evil and to grow in glory (God’s image).”

In other words, speaking truth does not always mean telling people what they want to hear or to make them feel good. Sometimes it might be words that challenge, convict, or even disappoint for the purpose of bringing harmful decisions or actions into the open. We need other people to help us notice when we are moving away from God, and we must remain open to receiving this type of encouragement.

It takes strength and dignity to be the kind of person who offers authentic encouragement. A person of strength is willing to cause another to feel uncomfortable for the purpose of leading him toward God’s love and reveal what is contrary to God’s desires for his life.

As God’s image-bearers, we have an inherent dignity reflecting the beauty of our Creator. Beauty brings something tangible to the heart and feels nourishing. It could be a sunset, a piece of art, or the laughter of a child. Living out of our dignity means we embrace our inner beauty and believe we have something to give. For instance, offering our eyes, ears, presence, and words can nourish a parched soul.

It feels risky to be an encourager who speaks truth with strength and dignity. Throughout the Gospels, we find example after example of how Jesus was this kind of encourager. And the writer of Hebrews declared Today as the best time to start.

Tracy Hanson

March 26, 2013

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