“Nothing without Encouragement” is drawn from Psalm 34:15-22 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
I have come to the understanding that encouragement is a key biblical principle for our own wellbeing and the ethical wellbeing of our communities.
When we think of encouragement we often go to Barnabas, “son of encouragement”, who is seen as the mentor of the New Testament.
However, I really appreciate what Hebrews 3 says about encouraging one another, not monthly, or yearly, but daily!
Before Covid lockdowns I would love, at Orientation, to tell our new theological students, that for the writer of Hebrew’s the call for encouragement is essential to “hearing His voice” (Hebrews 3:7-15). “Don’t seek to flourish in your studies without receiving and giving encouragement”.
As we seek together to hear God’s voice for our ministries, including moving into new strategies and goals, our best work and vision will have a foundation of encouragement.
In our New Testament passage for today, we read of events that are signs of the “end times”. Surely, we live in such times as witnessed by Covid superspreading, poverty, political confusion and at times understandable civil angst.
The Apostle concluded “therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”.
The Psalmist reminds us that, as always, our model is the Lord. He is the one who encourages His servants: “the righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them… The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.
In recent days the words ascribed to Martin Luther King Jr have stirred me, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.
We are in the image of God. We are not people of silence when the world experiences adversity. We are encouragers.
Rev Dr Ross Clifford AM is the Principal of Morling College (NSW Baptist) and author of numerous books many of which focus on Christian Apologetics. He is a Vice President of the Baptist World Alliance, President of the Asian Baptist Association, an acclaimed international preacher and speaker, a columnist in many Christian publications, winner of many national and international awards and for many years the Sunday evening Sydney Radio 2CH host. Ross is married to Bev, father and grand father.