We have friends who have two beautiful daughters. While their girls were still at home and playing sports, we attended one of their games. Like the other parents who had kids on the team, our friends were yelling out constant encouragements from the sidelines: “You can do it,” “Good job girl,” “Stay alert,” and “Be ready.” Go to any ball game anywhere in America, and you’ll hear these constant encouragements yelled to children from their families.
A local church should be like a close-knit family of believers. We should have a deep love for one another and interest in what each member is doing. We should be cheering one another on with constant encouragement. This is the concept the Apostle Paul repeats in I Corinthians Chapter 14. In verse 12, he tells the saints: “…seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” Every individual was being urged to consciously strive for excellence in the skill of encouraging saints in their assembly. It was to be their intentional purpose to “excel” in this needed ministry. We may not think very often about how important this is until we are the one going through a very difficult time and another saint strengthens our weary soul. But this is as important a ministry as any other. When Paul wrote about those “that prophesieth” (vss. 2-3), he was explaining that preaching was to accomplish the purpose of “edification.” Prophesying simply meant to proclaim God’s truth, in this instance with divine help from the Lord. But God wanted the human instrument to see that the Lord’s goal was more than grounding hearers in sound doctrine. It was also to build them up in Christ, “that the whole church may receive edifying” (vs. 5b). But this ministry of encouraging the saints isn’t just the preacher’s job. It’s everyone’s job. Paul explained to all the saints that whenever they opened their mouths, it was to be governed by words that were “…good to the use of edifying” (Ephesians 4:29b). The new standard now is: “Let all things be done unto edifying” (I Corinthians 14:26b).
Now that you know it is your job to intentionally strengthen, encourage, and build up other saints around you, how are you going to let this affect your life? Who in your assembly could use a call or visit from you to encourage them? The next time you attend a church service, go armed with the intention of purposely trying to encourage others around you.
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