Most New Testament voices are actively involved in encouraging their audiences to take up or to persevere in allegiance to Jesus and the Spirit-led life. Paul, Peter, and the anonymous author of the Letter to the Hebrews, however, also lay upon Christian believers the responsibility of similarly encouraging one another in their ongoing interactions. One online dictionary defines encouragement as “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope; persuasion to do or to continue something; the act of trying to stimulate the development of an activity, state, or belief.” The overlap with the Greek verb used by these New Testament authors is not perfect, but it is significant. It does refer to interactions, often verbal, that have as their goal helping the other person remain committed to a particular course of action or otherwise to sustain them in the face of some challenge. Encouragement takes many forms across the New Testament, and a survey of these forms will expand our own repertoire when it comes to fulfilling our responsibility to help one another maintain our forward momentum toward God’s goal for each and all of us.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Who do you know that, because of the situations they are facing, might benefit from the encouragement of other Christians, and perhaps specifically from hearing that they are held in high esteem among their Christian family? What will you do to provide that for a brother or sister this week?
- Who needs a little more than that? Who would perhaps benefit from your physical presence to embolden them as they face some difficulty or seek to overcome some challenge in their situations?
- What members of your congregation or other Christian circles would receive significant encouragement through their brothers and sisters coming alongside them with material or other needful, timely assistance? How might God wish to meet their need—and answer their prayer—through you?
Closing Prayer for Session Six
Almighty God, you have bestowed on all who believe in your Son the honor of being adopted as your own sons and daughters. You have set before us the hope of glory and set behind us the examples of generations of your followers who have run the race well. You have given us as gifts to our sisters and brothers in Christ and given them as gifts to us. Help us to keep one another mindful of the esteem in which you hold us, especially when a sister or brother suffers shame for the faith; help us to hold before one another the hope that draws us forward and the witness that impels us forward. Open our eyes to every opportunity to encourage our sisters and brothers to hold onto your gifts and promises, to invest themselves fully in the work of faith and love, and to resist every temptation to draw back from your calling. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you’re ready to take community life to the next level, get the foundational study that will lead you into this deeper understanding of the Christian life. One Another by David deSilva paints the New Testament vision for our relationships, interactions, and interventions with one another in a local Christian community. This vision impels us to encourage and support one another, offering reinforcement for holy living that, according to the apostles, we owe one another as the people not only welcomed into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but given as gifts to one another for this very purpose.
- Group leader training
- Small group studies
- Sunday school classes
- Discipleship bands
In these pages you’ll:
- Gain an appreciation for how we thrive in community
- Wrestle with our command to receive from and contribute to others’ faith
- Understand the biblical teaching on God’s people, the body of Christ
- Be challenged to abandon individualistic versions of the Christian faith