“Encourage one another daily, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
The Gospel of John explains what “sin’s deceitfulness” means when it tells us that the devil “is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) His most prevalent lies are that we are not worthy, that we are not loved or appreciated, that what we do doesn’t matter, and that God does not really care about us or our lives.
These lies seek to oppress us. They cause us to forget that we are God’s special creation, made in his image and likeness, with the important task of taking care of the garden of his creation and establishing his kingdom on this earth. These lies can be disabling. They derail us from the reason for our being. They prevent us from carrying out the work God has in mind for only us to do in the context of the people and circumstances of our lives.
The antidote for these lies is encouragement. Psalm 10:17 says God encourages the afflicted. We are his agents for encouragement. It is an act of love. One of the ways God shows his love for us is through the encouragement of one another.
When I think of encouragement, I think of my wife who constantly encourages our adult daughter, Emily, who has Down syndrome. Up until last year Emily worked at a bakery and catering business five days a week for twelve years. The bakery employed more than thirty people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In March of 2020, the bakery suspended operations due to COVID. For a variety of reasons the bakery later closed its business permanently.
Because of the continued presence of COVID and the general lack of employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we have not been able to find suitable work for Emily. Needless to say, she misses the routine of her work, getting out of the house, and seeing her many friends there each day.
My wife constantly encourages Emily by getting her to help with the daily chores of making the beds, folding clothes, vacuuming, and other housework. She develops routines for Emily to help with making her lunch and snacks, going for walks, arranging for former high school friends to come and visit, and generally encouraging her to be the joyful person she has always been — upbeat in spite of not having the work routine she previously enjoyed so much.
Is there someone in your life who needs encouragement?