By Warren Olson
Several years ago, a homemaker by the name of Jean Nidetch was in dire need of losing some weight. Being overweight had hindered her from living the life she wanted to live. So she went to her doctor, who gave her a weight-loss plan which she followed to the letter.
A few months later, however, Nidetch still had about 50 pounds to go in order to reach her ultimate goal. So she invited six of her friends to join in with her by getting together weekly to talk about their struggles and triumphs on their weight-loss journey.
That small group of women started what would become a worldwide weight-loss movement called Weight Watchers, an organization that has positively impacted millions of lives over the years.
What is it about encouragement from others that makes us want to strive harder? In all my years of ministry, I’ve seen time and time again how small words of encouragement and support can completely change the course of someone’s life.
This is exactly what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11,
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Now if we look at what Paul is discussing just a few verses before, we see he’s talking about the struggle of living out the Christian life. And as we struggle to obey God and face the spiritual challenges that come against us, encouragement is a powerful tool in that fight.
Here’s why: Encouragement does more than just make you and me feel better…it actually empowers us to push forward through our struggles!
God has never intended the Christian life to be lived alone. In fact, striving for obedience and facing tough times are the very reasons He’s given us one another. That’s why having fellow believers around you is so important in your walk of faith… to help you move forward in the face of resistance.
This kind of encouragement isn’t just a one-way street. In fact, encouraging others should be a part of everyday life for the believer in Jesus Christ. So as you are encouraged by others, you then contribute your part in the encouragement cycle by supporting others as they face life’s struggles.
And the truth is, encouraging others isn’t complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as praying with someone about a problem they’re having, being kind to others you encounter on a daily basis, or letting someone know you’re there for them if they need you.
Not only is giving and receiving encouragement obedience to the Lord’s commands, it’s a life-giving practice that will help you carry on when times get tough. So encourage others and let yourself be encouraged. In doing so you’ll find the push you need to get through any struggle you face!