Without a doubt, our family is a soccer family. Playing, watching, coaching…we love soccer! For the past 5 years, our 16 year old son has played on the same club team. Somewhere along the way of dozens and dozens of games, our youngest, who was just a baby when we first joined this team, has become their biggest fan and cheerleader. They refer to him as their mascot and at the end of every game, win or lose, he runs on the field jumping up and down, clapping, cheering and giving high fives to all the boys. At this weekend’s tournament after an overtime loss that went deep into the roster for kicks from the line to determine the winner, the jumping up and down cheering of a five year old once again brought smiles to some very exhausted and heart broken 16 year old boys! Amazing what a word of blessing and a smile can do!
In Colossians 4, as Paul begins with a series of instructions for the people of Colosse, he makes a quick jump to let the people know he is sending Tychicus for a very specific purpose: to connect with the people and “to encourage (their) hearts.” It seems to me that Paul understood something of the depth of blessing that comes from the encouragement of another.
Paul references encouraging one another or the blessing of encouragement at least 20 times in his writings. I have to consider that since God intended encouragement be mentioned this many times (and even more if you step outside of Paul’s writings), it is pretty important. I love how God has chosen to use the gift of “one another” to encourage broken hearts. We have been given both the gift of being able to bless the heart of those wounded, confused or scared and the command/responsibility to actually be doing it, to encourage one another, drawing one another closer to Jesus.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
I Thessalonians 5:11
I know that I have experienced this deep heart encouragement in various life circumstances. As a young mom, I needed the encouragement of a mom who had been there. When I have doubted my ability or strength to face a trial, the encouraging word of affirmation from a friend who knows me and knows my Savior has given me the strength to step confidently into God’s arms. As my dear friend walks through her battle with cancer, how many times I have seen the timely encouraging word of blessing from a friend has carried her through a dark day.
And so as I ponder these things, I am left with some heart questions…
- What kind of cheerleader am I? Am I making the most of opportunities I am given to jump onto someone’s field of life and cheer for them?
- Who in my sphere of influence needs encouragement today? Am I consistently asking God to show me those who need a word of blessing and am I relying on His strength to speak that word?