Encouraging others is work disciples can only do in community. Encouragement from others at just the right moment speaks volumes. It can mean the difference between giving up and knowing you’re okay. The receiver knows someone cares and feels that she matters. Just as Jesus encouraged Peter to walk on water, we also are called to encourage others to stretch beyond what they think they can do. Encouragement in the faith community is not just a pep talk: It is an affirmation and blessed assurance of what God can do in our lives.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11–24. Jesus left a trail of “encouraging” accounts for the disciples and the early church. This mark of encouraging is meant to be practiced in community. The practice appears to be about how we treat others, but it has less to do with others than it does with the change that occurs in ourselves. Your words of encouragement have a two-fold effect—they are affirming for the other and faith-building for you.
This message is excerpted from “Lessons for today’s disciples” by Valora K. Starr, a 2009 resource of the Women of the ELCA. Today we commemorate Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, martyr, c. 258.
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