By Guest Writer – Jim Lyons
“Christians are like the several flowers in a garden that have the dew of heaven, which, being shaken with the wind, they let fall at each others roots, whereby they are jointly nourished, and become nourishers of each other.”
John Bunyan could not have painted a more perfect picture of what it means for Christians to nourish one another in the faith. By all appearances, Bunyan was painting within the framework of the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
When the Apostle Paul penned these words, the Thessalonians needed some encouragement! The church in Thessalonica was facing a time of persecution. The faith of these new believers was being challenged, but Paul was exhorting them to stay the course by continuing to spread the love and hope they shared in Jesus Christ. Paul knew the body of believers would remain strong as long as they remained unified in faith and continued in doing good deeds towards one another.
The Apostle Paul’s instructions to the believers in Thessalonica are the same for us today: Encourage one another and build one another up.
Friends, these words are so vital for us to put into practice as we face a growing, global pandemic. Fellow believers are suffering; physically and spiritually. The Church is being persecuted in various forms. Financial ruin is pressing upon many. But we must not grow weary during a time like this. We are called to keep our eyes on Jesus and to encourage one another.
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
Hebrews 12:3 (ESV)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
The Bible gives us some examples that we can put into practice to encourage one another and build one another up during these difficult times.
We can encourage those in need by giving or sharing what we have.
Read Acts 4:32-37. The believers were of one heart and soul and shared the things they had so no one was in need.
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD.”
Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
We can encourage those who have become fainthearted.
Read Luke 24:13-35. Sharing and reflecting on our salvation and the eternal hope we have in Christ always offers encouragement!
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
1 John 4:10-11 (ESV)
We can encourage others when times are difficult.
As Christians, we are not exempt from the troubles of this life (Job 14:1), but hardships and challenging times can become more manageable to those who are suffering by sharing with them the word of God, faithful prayers, and thoughtful deeds that bring glory to our Father.
Read Acts 14:19-22. Despite being stoned and left for dead, the Apostle Paul, along with Barnabas, returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to strengthen the disciples and encourage them to remain true to the faith.
“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:22 (ESV)
We can build each other up by being an example in living out our faith in Jesus Christ.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
Friends, may the Lord open our eyes and ears to those who surround us, and by doing so, give us the wisdom and strength to be an encouragement to others.
Blessings to you,