Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV
Paul had a somewhat contentious relationship with the church at Corinth. And this letter reveals some of the problems within the church there, as well as the conflict between Paul and at least some of the members of this church. Throughout the letter, Paul challenges this church to get their act together and serve God faithfully.
But as he comes to the end of this letter he closes with some brief challenges to these people that he loved, in spite of the contention. Each of these challenges is short and to the point. And much could be made of each of them.
Included among them is the admonition to encourage one another. It is hard to overstate the importance of this. We need to encourage each other in our service to God; in our personal growth as believers; and in our relationships with others, including families and fellow believers.
Be An Encourager
Up until recently, I would run one or two half marathons every year. These were usually staged in big cities, with the course laid out along both business and residential streets. And all along the course, there would be people standing at the edge of the course offering encouragement to those running by. Their encouragement did not make my legs feel any better. But they did lift my spirits and kept me running when I might otherwise have been tempted to stop.
Our encouragement to believers is similar. We are running a race together (1 Cor. 9:24). And if we are faithful to encourage each other, we will find that the race, even though still challenging, is easier. Our encouragement can lead to greater effort, a sense of shared mission, and a renewed spirit.
Be an encourager. Life and service can be hard and seem unrewarding. But an encouraging word can make a world of difference.