ENCOURAGEMENT: A PARAMOUNT HUMAN NEED
SERMON TEXT: “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).
SERMON THESIS: Sincere encouragement causes us to hope in Christ in spite of life’s circumstances.
INTRODUCTION: While visiting with a dear lady in the nursing home this past week, I asked, “Is there anything you need today?” She said, “Yes! There is something I need. I need encouragement.” My dear friends, I suggest to you that a paramount human need is that of encouragement. There are times in this life when facing life’s disappointments, crises, and hardships, that all of us need a word of encouragement.
The dictionary defines encouragement for us as, “The act of inspiring others with renewed courage, a renewed spirit, or renewed hope,” and the Scriptures admonishes it. In addition to our text, hear these admonishing words from Scripture . . .
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
“Therefore encourage each other with these words” (I Thess. 4:18 NIV).
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2 NIV).
“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled” (Titus 2:6 NIV).
The dictionary defines it, Scripture admonishes it, and people put it into practice. In the words of Dr. David Jeremiah, in his book titled: The Power of Encouragement, he writes, “Some of the greatest success stories of history have followed a word of encouragement from a loved one or a trusted friend.” He goes on to tell the story of the great literary genius, Nathan Hawthorn, who was encouraged by his wife, Sophia, after being fired from his job at a customhouse and feeling like a failure. Following his heartbreaking disappointment, his wife surprised him with an exclamation of joy. The story unfolds as follows:
“Now,’ she said triumphantly, ‘you can write your book!’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, with sagging confidence, ‘and what shall we live on while I am writing it?’ To his amazement she opened a drawer and pulled out a substantial amount of money. ‘Where on earth did you get that?’ he exclaimed?’ ‘I have always known you were a man of genius,’ she told him. ‘I knew that someday you would write a masterpiece. So every week, out of the money you gave me for housekeeping, I save a little bit. So here is enough to last for one whole year.’”
Dr. Jeremiah goes on to say, “From her trust and confidence came one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Scarlet Letter.”
Oh! The power of encouragement! How can we add value to others through encouragement and meet a paramount human need in their life? I believe the answer is found in our text and from other Scriptural teachings.
I. ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER DAILY - The writer of Hebrews admonishes us with these words, “But encourage one another daily . . .”(Hebrews 3:13). In other words, encourage others on a regular basis. Take advantage of every opportunity you have because the need is always great. You don’t have to go very far into the day to find someone in your network of people who needs a word of encouragement. The practice of daily encouragement of others does the following:
1. It Builds Up...
Speaking of building up, someone said, “There are two kinds of people in the church: the pillars and the caterpillars. The pillars hold the church up and the caterpillars crawl in and out every week. But for those who fail to get connected, there is a price to be paid in needs that go unmet.”
In his letter to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul admonished his fellow believers with these words...
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME" (Romans 15:1-3).
Back in Romans 14:19, he wrote...
Speaking of building up, I was surprised to be confronted with this question recently, “Do your sermons beat up or do they build
up?” I hope they “build up” but you will have to be the judge of that.
2. Encouragers Spur One Another Onward...
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).
Cowboys use spurs on their boots to spur their horses forward. Encouragement serves as a spur to move the discouraged person forward, and to give them renewed courage. One writer said, “Christians seek ways to encourage one another to express love through good deeds.” He goes on to write, “Communal worship is one way we gain strength and motivation from other disciples.” It was the Apostle Paul who wrote,
One of the best example of this kind of encouragement is found in the Book of Acts...
“And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
Did you spur someone onward last week through your words of encouragement? If not, will you encourage someone today?
II. ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITHOUT DELAY - The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “...as long as it is called Today” (Hebrews 3:13).
Why are we to encourage one another without delay? Go back to Hebrews 3:12, for the answer...
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called Today, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Delay can be deadly for the person who needs to be encouraged. Why? “If Christians do not exhort (encourage, challenge, warn) one another daily they will be in danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” - Matthew Henry. He goes on to say “...therefore it should be the great concern of everyone to exhort (encourage) himself and others to beware of sin...” “Without delay” is to suggest that you act upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit to encourage someone immediately.
Write that note and send it today. Written encouragement, in the words of Dr. Jeremiah, is powerful for the following five reasons:
1. Written encouragement is deliberate
2. Written encouragement is definite
3. Written encouragement is direct
4. Written encouragement is durable
5. Written encouragement is distance-proof - On Friday, Carolyn and I received a letter from a friend in Salt Lake City, Utah. Inside that written note of encouragement was a check in the amount of $ 500.00, for our Wounded Heart Ministry. Were we encouraged? As they say in South Dakota, “You bet!”
6. Make that phone call today. To procrastinate is to delay. When it comes to encouragement tomorrow never comes. Omit the “if only’s” of encouragement by encouraging someone today.
7. Point someone to Scripture. One of our greatest sources of encouragement is Scripture. Again, in his letter to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote ...
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus; that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:4-6).
Encouragement is a paramount human need. Therefore take this opportunity to encourage someone today, and do it without delay!
CONCLUSION: Speaking with the urgency of this message the best encouragement that I can give you, the lost person, is this ...
“And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-- for He says, "AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU" Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION"-- (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
“He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS” (Hebrews 4:7).
“But encourage on another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
Will you trust Him now? The decision is yours!