Sep 04, 2022 08:00am
Need a Shot of Encouragement For the Culture War?

First Thessalonians 5: 11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” The times we are living in right now are difficult. The last two to three years have been one of the most difficult seasons I can remember. So many are struggling, and depression is becoming more and more of a challenge. Antidepressants are now the most widely prescribed drug in the U.S. according to Therapy Culture. Pastors and leaders are not immune to the clutches of disappointment, discouragement, and depression. Yet Paul, in light of the Day of the Lord coming, says “Encourage and build each other up.”

Our world has produced a complete lack of trust, conspiracies galore, and polarizing viewpoints. Every word spoken is scrutinized, every decision is challenged, and even our motives are questioned if you dare to disagree. 

Remember that the real enemy is Satan and we are called to be different by encouraging one another and seeking to build up one another. Let’s challenge ourselves to not allow the gripe-y, negative, ever-complaining culture around us to infiltrate our church families. Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works.”

Encourage someone! God placed us in a church family not to tear one another down but rather to build one another up. Who do you need to encourage today? To whom do you need to say thank you?  Who comes to mind that you need to call or text and express your appreciation for what they mean to you?  

Everyone needs encouragement now and then, and our church families should be the best examples of godly encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Jesus was continually encouraging and challenging His disciples in their faith journey. He spoke the truth and did not back off the reality of the situation but encouraged them. He did not tell them that everything was going to work out how they wanted or that there would never be difficulty and tribulation. There was no promise that it would always be smooth sailing, but He did say in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  Even in the midst of tribulation God’s peace is available.

Encourage means to pour courage into, so who needs to be encouraged today? Who is struggling right now? All of us could use some building up and to be reminded that we are not alone and God is still in control. This is the importance of community and being connected to a church family spiritually, relationally, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. We need to see one another, spend time with one another, encourage one another, and build up one another.  Fight the temptation to focus on yourself and begin by focusing on others who need encouragement.  

During challenging seasons, the goal is not keeping up with the times but rather keeping up with Jesus. How do we do that? According to First Thessalonians 5:8 we put on the armor of faith first. We approach these uncertain times and the future with a faith-based rather than fear-based attitude. Find encouragement in God’s Word where over and over when His people faced insurmountable odds they were told, “Do not be discouraged!  Do not be afraid!” What was happening? Courage was being poured into them by trusting in the Lord instead of how things appeared to be. Fear is real, but never forget that God is able.   

First Thessalonians 5:8 also says to put love on our chests. Outrage is not a strategy, and while what you are standing for is right you may not be standing for it in the right way. These are some of the most difficult times culturally to navigate. The real challenge forging ahead will be navigating these difficult times by showing compassion without compromising convictions and standing for biblical convictions without compromising compassion. Encourage one another by showing the same grace you desire when you are the one who has sinned. We all need grace and let’s encourage one another with that truth.

Then Paul tells the church in Thessalonica to put on a helmet of the hope of salvation. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and that means we must distinguish between our present state and our future fate. Our future fate is not determined by the times we live in, the culture we are enduring, or the difficulties of our situation. Do not forget that God enjoys working through the critical mass of two or three. He does some of His best work in the worst places and during the most difficult times. Be encouraged by Romans 5:8 that says, “But God proved His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The challenge is for us to encourage one another and build one another up. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little building up right now. You do not go through the battles unscathed.  They weigh on you, pull you down, and impact you spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.  Maybe we need to begin by repenting of our bad attitudes and seek the mind of Christ.  The first work of grace is the first word of grace: Repent. It begins with a change of heart that leads to a change of behavior. To repent means that you adopt God’s viewpoint over your own. Even your attitude.  Encourage someone today with these words!

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