BY KENNETH HAGIN JR.
As Christians, we often play a part in the success of others. It is our responsibility not only to be a witness to unbelievers, but to minister the love of Jesus to our fellow brothers and sisters and to
encourage them to excel in Christ.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. –John 13:34,35
I once read the story of a certain minister who talked about the importance of encouraging fellow believers. He said that just as we encourage one another in everyday life, we must also encourage one
another in Christ – in spiritual things. In other words, as believers, we should encourage one another to excel in Christ and to push past our trials and circumstances on to victory.
That minister went on to say that a few years ago he decided to take up the sport of running. He realized that if he wanted to run, he had to discipline himself, and that if he wanted to be disciplined, he must
set a goal. His goal was to run in a marathon.
This minister’s two daughters were both runners, and they trained with their dad, helping him become a runner. One of his daughters had broken a state record and also won the state championship in the cross-country event.
This minister said that while he trained, he experienced much discouragement all around him from almost everyone. Instead of offering him encouragement, many of his friends said, “I don’t know if
you can do it. I don’t know why anyone would want to run twenty-six miles anyway.” He also met people who said, “Yeah, I tried that, but I didn’t make it. You’ll be just like me.”
The story doesn’t end there, but what that minister said really made an impact on me. Too often our words are not encouraging words. Instead, they serve to discourage those around us.
At many different times as I have visited people in the hospital, I’ve heard some very discouraging conversations. For example, someone would ask the patient, “Well, what did the doctor say?”
The patient would answer, “The doctor said I have such and such.”
Then the other person would say, “Oh, my Uncle John had that, and he died.”
I’m sure those words didn’t encourage that patient! And neither did the words of that minister’s friends encourage him as he trained to run in the marathon.
After weeks of training, the day finally came for that minister to run his race. But soon after he began running, all those discouraging words came flooding into his mind. His discouragement began to become a reality as other runners passed him by. He kept losing his pace; his body wanted to shut down on him and stop running. Every muscle in his body screamed, “Hey, we’ve had enough. Let’s quit this race!”
But in the midst of this minister’s discouragement came several rays of sunshine. Stationed strategically all along the route he was running were many of his church members, cheering him on. His wife, his son, and his two daughters also stood alongside the road to encourage him. After he’d run by them, they would get in their car and drive a few miles along the route so they could encourage him again as he ran by.
At the twenty-third mile marker, his daughter, who was the cross-country state champion, stood beside the curb yelling, “Dad, you can make it!”
The minister’s honest reply was, “I don’t think so.”
Realizing that this was a critical moment for him, this minister’s daughter jumped off the curb in her street clothes and shoes and began to run with her dad. Every few strides they made, she would encourage him, “Come on, Dad! We can finish this race!” It was no longer “Dad, you can do it,” but “Dad, we can do it!”
Picture this champion running with a beginner – a weaker runner’; She wasn’t embarrassed that she was in her street clothes. She just wanted someone she loved to finish his race and reach the goal he had set for himself.
This champion didn’t criticize her father saying, “You need to have better form” or “You need to put more effort into it.” She never ran ahead of him. She stayed beside him, and she kept saying, “It’s not
much farther now, Dad. We’ll Finish this race.
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
You see, spiritually, we don’t need someone running in front of us telling us to “shape up.’ And we don’t need someone criticizing us from the sidelines, so to speak. Many times, we just need one of God’s
champions to run alongside us to inspire us to excel in Christ.
When was the last time you “jumped off the curb” to help someone run his spiritual race? When was the last time you put your arms around someone to hold him up because he was faltering? When was the last time you told someone, “Come on, we can make it. You and I and Christ are a team, and we can make it! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other”?
Encouragement. That’s one thing we need in this day. There is enough discouragement in this world as it is. Believers should have positive attitudes about serving God and about excelling in the world we live in.
I understand the fact that we are living in perilous times. But I also understand that we have a race to run (Heb. 12:1). And we who are stronger are supposed to help the weak.
I THESSALONIANS 5:11
11 Wherefore COMFORT YOURSELVES TOGETHER, and EDIFY ONE ANOTHER, even as also ye do.
The Amplified Bible says, “Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify – strengthen and build up – one another, just as you are doing.”
The Revised Standard Version says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Paul was writing and exhorting the Thessalonian Christians, but the principles apply to all of us today. One of the reasons he was writing to the Thessalonians about encouraging one another is they were going through a period of discouragement and persecution.
But Paul himself was encouraged amidst his own circumstances when he heard of the faith and love of the Thessalonian believers.
I THESSALONIANS 3:7
7 Therefore, brethren, WE WERE COMFORTED over you IN ALL OUR AFFLICTION AND DISTRESS by your faith.
The Amplified Bible says, “Brethren, for this reason, in [spite of all] our Stress and crushing difficult* we have been filled with comfort and cheer about you [because of] your faith — the leaning of your Whole
personality on God in complete trust and confidence.”
Even the Apostle Paul needed encouragement. Why did be need to be encouraged? Because according to First Thessalonians 3:7, he was in affliction and distress. And if the great Apostle Paul needed to be
encouraged, there is no reason for us to think we won’t need the same thing!
We know that in Paul’s ministry, fierce persecution broke out against him. The words “affliction” and “distress” in First Thessalonians 3:7 imply choking, intense pressure, distress, and crushing trouble.
Crushing trouble means that Paul faced so much pressure and stress that at times he felt almost as if he were being ‘crushed” by the weight of his circumstances!
So many times we find people who are carrying the load of their situation. They, like Paul, feel as if they are being crushed and choked by their circumstances. Then someone will usually come along an say, “Just have faith, Brother!” or “Just have faith, Sister!”
That is not real encouragement. The Christian who is under pressure may be doing everything he knows to do to help himself. He doesn’t need someone hollering, “Have faith!” He needs someone who will help him in his faith and point Him to Jesus.
In the midst of our discouragement, it always helps when someone is there to lend a helping hand. And when we are encouraging others, we shouldn’t just speak empty words; instead, we are to be doers of the
Word. We who are stronger in faith should slip an arm around that brother or sister and say, “Come on, let’s go. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The victory is near!”
You see, instead of helping someone along in his faith, some Christians only criticize. They say, “You heard the same message I heard, and you’re in a problem and I’m not. What’s the matter with you, anyway?”
But just because that person attends the same church you attend and has heard the same message you heard doesn’t give you the right to put him down. The Word of God says to minister to the weaker brother and lift him up! The Church is supposed to be a place where people can receive grace, mercy, help, forgiveness, and redemption.
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ should be a compassionate Church, behaving toward others as the “Good Samaritan” did.
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain SAMARITAN, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he HAD COMPASSION ON HIM,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
The Samaritan picked up the wounded man. He put him in an inn, paid the man’s bill, and told the innkeeper, “If that doesn’t cover it, I’ll pay you the rest when I return.” This Samaritan was lifting up the
weaker brother, so to speak. He was a giving man, and that’s how we should be too.
We who are strong may have to pick up the weak and carry them for a while just like the good Samaritan did. We may have to help them cross the finish line and finish their race.
1 We then that are strong ought to BEAR THE INFIRMITIES OF THE WEAK, and not to please ourselves.
When we bear the infirmities of the weak, we are fulfilling the law of Christ.
2 BEAR YE ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ is the royal law of love. And the love of God is what causes us to bear another’s burdens – to act like the good Samaritan.
In reading the Scriptures, we understand that Paul received encouragement from the Thessalonian Church (I Thess. 3:6). When he did, his purpose was revitalized and renewed. The defeat, the
discouragement, and the difficulties he was facing were nothing compared to the encouragement of his brothers in the Lord. The encouragement Paul received ignited and renewed in him his vision and
purpose to take the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world.
You may never know how much your smile and encouraging words can mean to someone. You don’t know what is going on inside another person’s heart or what is going on in his family. He may be hiding behind a false “front,” but he may be hurting on the inside.
Sometimes Christians allow themselves to get so far down that they can’t lift themselves up. But someone else’s encouraging words can rekindle the flame of the Spirit on the inside of them. The flame of the Holy Spirit can burn away all the discouragement and begin to lift them above the heaviness of their depression.
I THESSALONIANS 5:11
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and EDIFY one another, even as also ye do.
The word “edify” in First Thessalonians 5:11 means to strengthen or build up. But how do you edify and lift up your neighbor? By speaking to him with encouraging words such as, “You can succeed” or “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.” In other words, you’re saying, “God has forgiven you, and I forgive you.” Then through your words, the Holy Spirit can minister to that person and help him.
Encouraging one another also means ministering to one who is sick and in need. That is what Christianity is all about – showing the love of Christ.
The basis for our encouragement and edification is the Word of God and the love of Christ. Although Jesus didn’t have to, He gave up His throne and His power and came to this earth. He lived, died, and rose again so that we might be free from the chains of sin, sickness, and disease, and press through to victory in the midst of trials. Through God’s mercy, we have been redeemed and set free!
When we accept Christ and experience the mercy, joy, and peace of God, we’ll be held accountable if we fail to reach out with the same loving hand that was extended to us. We must decide if we are going to
minister in love like the good Samaritan, or minister in condemnation or apathy like the other men who walked by the wounded man and didn’t stop to help him (Luke 10:31,32).
Which will it be? Will you minister in God’s love to others? Will you extend God’s compassion and lend a helping hand to others and make a difference in their lives? As a believer, you can be the love of God
in action as you minister God’s love to others!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE WORD OF FAITH, APRIL 1995, PAGES 14-17. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.