“… admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak, be patient with them all.”
I Thessalonians 5:14
We say we believe what the Bible says; if that’s true, then we believe our words have power and should be spoken with purpose. Therefore, consider, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). This is verbal communication emphasized—the Lord is saying our speech has power. Words have the power to give a death sentence to one with weak faith or one who is starting to believe, and yet life to the failing and faint-hearted; that’s what God tells us. Words matter, but people matter more; that’s a deep and profound truth. Use words to motivate them—“… encourage the fainthearted …”
It has been proven that the average active person speaks 25,000 words a day. How many encourage and how many erode or discourage people? Certainly the Apostle Paul believed that and he helps us understand the power of words; he said to the people of Ephesus:
“Don’t use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing.”
The Living Bible
To express it simply, there are some words that never come out of the mouth of a believer and there are other words that should never be words we utter. Paul gives a restriction, “Say only what is good …” One translation calls it “offensive talk” and another translates “corrupting talk.” The source of the word Paul used in Greek is the word for decayed or spoiled meat. So, it’s detrimental, even deadly; it has the power to make a person ill and hopeless. There is truth in all said about bullying.
The idea is that each of us has a constant ministry to lift up and encourage, and the old English word is “edifying.” If we are going to play a vital role in helping people grow and develop, we must ask God for a mind of discernment. The question with people is “Who needs what and why?”
The greatest counselors, the best friends, and even the best preachers have the ability to read people and to somehow understand what is appropriate, what is prophetic or timely, and what is compassionate. At this point no Scripture helps us more than Paul speaking of having the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Peter says, “arm yourselves likewise with the same mind” (I Peter 4:1), and then Paul says, “we have the mind of Christ” in I Corinthians 2:16. But not everyone can say, “we possess the mind of Christ” (English Bible). It is only those who walk with Him in an intimate relationship. Vance Havner is absolutely right, “A deep and sober daily concern to please God is the rarest of rarities,” but it is bestowed on those who practice the presence of God. “Say only what will give them a blessing.”
Colossians 3:23 comes into play, “And whatever you do, do it heartily …” The devotional writer Oswald Chambers said, “God never makes bloodless stoics; He makes no passionless saints.” Malcom Forbes had a bit of wit when he spoke about optimism and enthusiasm in all we do. He commented, “People who never get carried away should be!”
Be a motivator, bring people up to your level. We need all to feel as equals, as teammates and as co-laborers. Look around and think, who on this team may not feel fully accepted and fully wanted?
I. AS A MOTIVATOR YOU ARE LIVING
No person is a motivator and an encourager of others who is not fully alive! We motivate because we want to help others, but it comes to help us stay alert and alive. Have heartfelt enthusiasm about life itself!
You know already that a useless life is an early death for it is to live in gloom and shadow, but to invest in motivation is to be fully alive. To inspire and encourage is one sure thing which gives radiance to everything and everybody—you have turned the light on!
And motivate with God involved. What God expects you to do, He enables you to achieve. And it isn’t learned in a textbook. Being someone who sincerely encourages is something you discover while you do it. The people of Estonia have a proverb, “The work will teach you how to do it.”
At the moment you want to live, so decide “I will sincerely be an encourager and a motivator and God will help me.” You might not know whom it will bless, but you do know it needs to be done and you do know few are committed to do it. Paul said, “… encourage the fainthearted, help the weak …” So it’s simply faith in action and love in spirit that we are really talking about, and it’s powerful and dynamic.
You are needed—people seldom improve when they have no other example to follow but their own! And you may ask, “How is it done?” One filled with joy and enthusiasm for ministry that blesses people is teaching without saying a single word. Nothing is more infectious than a sincere person who is full of life. And you can believe this—when people are free to do as they please, do you know what they do?—follow someone’s example. It’s not a lesson they need taught on how to bless people—it’s an example. We motivate most when we show it in life.
But let us get most practical and down-to-earth as we serve alongside people. God’s Word gives us guidelines. The words we speak are not to be flattering words and not just positive words or nice words or polite words—it’s more than that. And furthermore, these words are not ego-exalting or man-centered. These are words that reflect Biblical understanding and show that we understand God is at work in all believers and His work is based on grace. Our words reveal our character and they are spoken to build up another person. “… encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Let our mouths be filled with truth, tender and timely words, words that are appropriate and admonishing. But, this is not religious talk like in church, this is everyday continuous conversation, not just for special times or only occasionally. There is a powerful expression that makes it clear, “… exhort one another every day …” (Hebrews 3:13)
We are to guard our words, saying more, speaking less. This is conversation of a real Christian that is spontaneous but with authority and indicating the Lordship of Christ. We are to speak words that build people and benefit people. Notice the three key words used in that verse from I Thessalonians: “admonish,” “encourage,” and “help.” These are not synonyms; each is distinct. Some people need admonishment, others need encouragement, and yet others need help.
II. AS A MOTIVATOR YOU ARE LOVING
Just love them! And what better way to love people than encouragement? Let them see a real person who lives loving others, wanting them to be at their best for God. This is love alive and released. But it must be a desire born in your heart. Amelia Earhart, when she was asked why she wanted to dare to do what others feared doing, said, “I want to do it because I want to do it!” And God has to put the “want to” into our heart and release it through our personality. They see you, but then they see God in you.
Love people with Jesus’ love. — How many people are like the psalmist? Here are his words, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.” (Psalm 73:2, NIV) But then—God sends a loving person like you into their life and they end up saying, “Your acts of love convinced me that there was a God of love! I was almost gone until you came along armed with the power of love and encouragement.”
And Peter says in his first letter, “To this you were called …” and he ties it to Jesus, “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2:21, NIV)
III. AS A MOTIVATOR YOU ARE LIBERATING
And finally, there is the sense of helping to set a person free to be all God intended them to be. Can you imagine Jesus saying to people who were downtrodden, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31, NIV)? Think of how He gave them value and set them free to be real people with hopes and dreams.
God often said words that liberated people from darkness and defeat, words like “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2) The Lord speaks words of hope, words that encourage and offer a future. We can do that without making empty promises and sounding as if our words were “practiced” phrases.
To encourage and motivate them is to say, “Be what you really are and become what you are capable of becoming.” Is that not one of the productive ends of one’s life?” Some people have never known an encourager—not their parents, teachers, or employers. So to be inspired is a personal dawn in their life and their whole temperament is quickened, their understanding sharpened, and the spirit of hopelessness is banished.
For example, a young girl in her teens said to her teacher, “Oh please, will you develop me?” and she meant, not only teach me but help me understand a totally different way of looking at life. Is this not the work of a liberator, to see a person set free from mental chains that bind them?
And then imagine, having helped such a person and then sharing an evangelistic witness. How open would such a person be to that? Jesus said, “I have come to set the captive free.” Well then, if Christ is in you, you will have a role like that in the lives of people. But, then, after being a human encourager, pass them on to Jesus. Say, “I’ve been His messenger, but now let me point you on to Christ. He can finish what I started!” Do you see how it is like a hand in a glove? Don’t be afraid to give them hope and then do as Wesley did; he wrote over and over, “Today I gave them Christ.” — Fully liberate them by giving them the gospel of grace. Give them Christ! After all, Christ is the true Liberator! People need to see people who illustrate God’s love and convince them that the message we preach is real because they see it in you!
The Ukrainians have a proverb which says, “When the flag is unfurled, all reason is in the trumpet.” Apply it then to this ministry. When they see your life like a flag unfurled, waving in the air, your voice is the trumpet! What you say matters and you can lead them into the battle of life! — That’s your role and that’s real ministry. Let “the flag” be unfurled and sound your trumpet and they will follow you into the battle of life with the Lord of life!
Now, stop and think about it again with these words fresh in your mind:
“and always thankful to the Father who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in the Kingdom of light.”