So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Something we are called to do is to encourage and build up our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And something I know I’m not very good at always doing is building up and encouraging my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Sure we can easily tell someone they did a good job after they did something well. The words take just a second to say, and require minimal thought. But I have a feeling that this verse is talking about something less superficial, about a more significant and meaningful form of encouragement and building up. It’s talking about affirmations.
Over the summer I worked at a Christian camp where we had an affirmation board for the staff. It was a board with everyone’s name on it, and pins so that you could stick up notes of encouragement for people. Just a simple note to let them now they were making a difference, that you appreciated their help. A note with a verse or song lyric you thought God could use to speak to them. Some words to pick them up when they were having a rough day. And it was through getting engaged with that that I realised how important it is for us to do that kind if a thing on a regular basis.
Because as I wrote my notes and stuck them up I started to hear back how they had been just what that person needed at that moment. Which in turn encouraged me and built me up. And then they would write an affirmation for me. Which further encouraged me and built me up. And I could let them know that it had been just what I needed at that moment. Which in turn encouraged them and built them up. See where this cycle is going?
See, what I’ve learnt is as we take time to encourage others, to build them up and grow in their faith, it comes back to encourage and build us up as we see them growing, as we see them getting stronger in their faith. We take encouragement from the knowledge we played a part in that process. And it also means that when we need some Christian encouragement there’s someone in a place to give it.
Never underestimate the power and impact taking a few minutes to write some personal, meaningful words of encouragement can have. I have received such messages, and the joy you get from reading them is amazing. I have them all saved to read over again and get uplifted by in times when I’m feeling down. And I have also seen the impact notes I’ve written have had in the lives of those I care about. (People like Cassie, Heather, Donald, Cherée, Jen and Nancy.) And one of my biggest regrets is only really starting to do that this summer.
So here’s the challenge. It is time to resolve to get serious about encouraging each other and building each other up so that we can be all that God intends us to be. Which means it is time to start writing notes of affirmation, of God’s truth, of hope and encouragement for those close to us. It is time to start texting Bible verses to friends who could benefit from them. And where possible try and do handwritten notes too. This isn’t something to do every now and then. It’s something we need to do every day. What are you waiting for?
{Jen Jones, thanks for the verse and the kind words. Maybe you are the better Jones after all}

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