By Chaplain Jeremy Carr
‘…encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.’
– I Thessalonians 5:11
On April 3, 2020, legendary musician Bill Withers died. He was known for many classic songs including “Lean on Me.” By my mention of the song there is a good chance you are humming the tune even now.
- “Lean on me, when you’re not strong
- And I’ll be your friend
- I’ll help you carry on
- For it won’t be long
- ‘Til I’m gonna need
- Somebody to lean on.”
“Lean on Me” is a great song to remind us of our need for one another. As humans we are created for community, to be in relationship with one another and with God. It is not God’s intention for us to journey through life alone, but to have others to walk through life with. As we live life together we are to give and receive encouragement along the way.
The apostle Paul writes of encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 5. In verse 11 he instructs to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” He describes the characteristics of encouragement in verses 12-14 as “respect,” “peace,” and “patience,” the results being “joy,” “prayer,” and “thanksgiving” (verses 16-18).
The word “encouragement” comes from the greek work “parakaleo,” which means “to urge or implore, to comfort, to encourage.” It literally means “to call near.”
Closely related to “parakaleo” is the word “paraclete,” which describes the Holy Spirit as helper, comforter, and encourager.
When we encourage one another we are calling each other closer together and closer to God; to lean on him and each other in our weakness. When we encourage each other we find our help and comfort ultimately in the Holy Spirit of God. Encouragement is a divine encounter. This divine encounter is done with respect, peace, and patience bringing about increased joy, prayerfulness, and thanksgiving.
Are you in need of encouragement today? Is there someone in your life that you may be an encouragement to? May we lean on one another when we’re not strong and may we encourage one another, calling each other near to the One who is our ultimate Comforter.