Love That Encourages
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
One of America’s best-loved cartoon characters was getting grief from his sister over his new-found favorite pastime—bird patting. Tiny winged creatures would land at his feet and he would bend down, pat them on the head, and give them a little “scritch scritch scritch” behind the “ears” for good measure. The birds would then flit away, newly empowered by a simple act of kindness and encouragement. But, as usual, his sister would have none of it, and teased him endlessly over the silliness of his new hobby. “What’s wrong with patting birds on the head?” he asked. “What’s wrong with it?” asked the sister mockingly. “What’s wrong with it is that nobody else is doing it!”
Indeed—and all the more’s the shame. It may have been true at one time that “...seldom is heard a discouraging word...,” but today, it’s likely just the opposite: Seldom is heard an encouraging word. Ask adults how they knew they were loved by a parent or teacher or coach in their growing-up years, and often you’ll hear the answer, “They always encouraged me and gave me hope for the future.” One of the clearest indications of love is encouragement that leads to hope.
Encouragement is such a powerful antidote to failure that the British Royal Navy has an official regulation that states, “No officer shall speak discouragingly to another officer in the discharge of his duties.” Perhaps better to have encouragement by law than not at all, but how much better to have it God’s way: By his grace. Paul says that the love of God for us is manifested by his grace whereby God constantly encourages us and gives us hope for the future. It is by pouring his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that he encourages us (Rom. 5:5; “encourage” is from the same Greek word as the word for “comforter,” referring to the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel).
The Holy Spirit’s ministry at this very moment, as you read these words, is to encourage you to receive the love of God and live in his hope for your future. God loves you—be encouraged today!
God’s Promise to You: “An evidence of my love for you is my encouragement in you.”