We`ve spent much of our summer holiday this year trying to teach our son Kyle to swim. Thinking back to the beginning of the holidays, I don`t think we imagined how much effort would have to go into it for him to make the progress that he has. It certainly hasn`t been easy and it`s taken plenty of endurance from him, and lots of encouragement from us – in many different ways:
We equipped him with what he needed. We made it fun at times. We praised him a lot. We disciplined when necessary, shared our knowledge, looked ahead to better times, and let him learn lessons from mistakes. But we always caught him and loved him through it. We promised rewards, looked back at his progress, gave him a break when he was tired, gently pushed him a little further, and loved him, whether he did well or not. As Kyle pursued his goal we were by his side encouraging him, giving him all that he needed to keep going and keep trying.
In this Scripture Paul is saying that the Bible is there to teach us and give us this kind of encouragement; encouragement to endure and have hope for a better future. His prayer is that we don’t just take it for ourselves, but we use it to encourage one another.
Encouragement is not just words saying, “Come on, you can do it.” It can be as simple as practical help, a small gift or note to someone, a kind word, a gentle rebuke, sitting with someone and showing how it can be better in the future and much more! One thing is clear, though, unless you`re watching and looking to see how others are doing and what they need, you won`t be able to encourage effectively. It always starts with seeing the needs of others, and not just ours.
Let`s pray that we have that mind of Christ Jesus; a mind to encourage one another in whatever way we can, so we can all endure and have hope of a better future.
Prayer: Father God, You`re the God of encouragement, giving us strength to grow and move forward. Help me to see opportunities to encourage others in life and to respond to those needs effectively. Amen.
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