Encourage One Another
Gordon Crook, Pastor, Grace Assembly, Wichita, Kansas
“Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees.” Isaiah 35:3
We are encouraged in Scripture to love one another, and one of the ways we demonstrate that love is to encourage and strengthen one another. While we all receive strength from God, and encouragement from His Word, God also desires that we show real care for each other as members of the body of Christ.
In Deuteronomy 3:28, God tells Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua as he would lead the people into the promised land. In Deuteronomy 31:7, Moses does exactly that. In Joshua 1:9, God encourages Joshua. It is interesting that He would ask Moses to do that if He was going to do it later.
I think there is a lesson here for us, that God encourages and enables us to encourage and strengthen each other. He must have a purpose in all of this.
In the New Testament we find this instruction: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13. We are not isolated from each other and need to help each other by lifting up hands and making straight paths for our feet.
The hands speak of our works. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, and those can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 They are the result of yielding to the life of Christ in us.
So, what then is the purpose here? Well, we are all members of the body of Christ. As members of the same body, we need each other. “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16. Every member of the body helps others. All the necessary strength and impulse comes from the head which is Christ, but notice that every joint supplieth to others.
The feet speak of our walk. The conduct of our lives. Sometimes our knees are weak making it difficult to continue the Christian walk. While it is true that we get our encouragement and our guidance from God’s Word, we do need the encouragement of other members of the body. We need to have our knees strengthened, and straight paths before us.
In the Old Testament, we saw Joshua being encourage and strengthened by Moses, even though he had already proven to be a great leader and warrior. Moses reminded him that God would never leave him nor forsake him. We have the same encouragement in Hebrews 13:5. When we are going to lift someone’s hands and strengthen their knees, we will have to use God’s Word. If God encouraged you in some way from His Word, He wants you to use that to encourage someone else.
I think that some Christians believe that it is the responsibility of the pastor to encourage all of the people in the congregation. While it is true that the Pastor should encourage and edify his congregation, scripture makes it plain that we all have a responsibility to each other. “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. This is not written to pastors, but to all of us.
If you are wondering whether you are qualified to encourage someone else, remember that it is not you, it is God working through you. “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4. God encourages us so we can encourage others. He also enables us to know what to speak if we will listen to His guidance.
When we have come through a trial, we are then able to help others. Before He went to the cross, Jesus knew the Peter was going to be tempted in a very difficult situation. This is how Jesus spoke to Peter: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:31-32. Notice that Jesus did not promise Peter that he would be kept from the temptation, only that Jesus had prayed for him that his faith would be firm. Jesus also gives Peter an instruction to strengthen his brothers after he has come through the temptation.
God does not want us to live in some sort of isolated way. The reason that He uses the body to describe us, is because He wants us to be like a body where each member needs the others.
As we are living in very difficult times, more than ever, we need each other. We need to encourage, lift, strengthen and edify one another. God has provided us all that we need in His Word. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep studying your Bible and allowing God to encourage and edify you so you can help another member of the body of Christ.