14th May 2023

Words of encouragement

The most iconic scene in several of the most successful movies is a scene that involves an inspiring speech. This usually features the protagonist addressing a group of people, exhorting them to carry on despite the overwhelming odds that have been stacked against them.

As I am saying this, you may be picturing Mel Gibson astride a horse in the movie, Braveheart. His character, William Wallace, implores his Scottish countrymen to fight their English overlords by saying, ‘They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!’

In the movie, Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams’ character is known for his inspirational words to his students, ‘Carpe Diem’, or ‘Seize the day!’ Sports fans may recall Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans. He calmly inspires his embattled racially diverse football team at the site of the battle at Gettysburg. He implores them to accept and support each other saying ‘If we don’t come together, right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like them.’

The fact is, we were meant to be encouraged. When we were children, we were told, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me. I don’t know about you, but I have felt the stinging pain of quite a few words in my life. Over the years, psychological studies have shown that words do in fact have a profound impact on the human brain and on our personal development. Words have great power; they can breathe life or death into the soul; they can build up someone’s spirit or tear it down.

The apostle Paul’s short second letter to the church in Thessalonica was meant to be a letter of encouragement. The believers were striving to model faith and patience in Christ while undergoing severe persecution and trials. Paul commends them by saying:

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 NIV)

Paul is writing to a church that has endured the seizure of their property, loss of their livelihoods, and abandonment of their families. Some were beaten and others were put to death. Through it all, Paul wants them to know that their faith and love are not in vain. Amidst their trials, God empowers them and provides opportunities for his people to share their faith and love. Their shining example of faith and love is being recognized and honored by their brothers and sisters in Macedonia.

Sometimes in the busyness of life, we are distracted from noticing God’s invitation to join him in ministering to the people around us. Blinded by our own concerns, we might miss the opportunity to encourage those around us. We may never understand the struggles those around us are facing. The waitress serving you who appears frazzled may be a single mom working extra shifts to put a roof over her children’s heads. The elderly gentleman that shows up early at your church may have been diagnosed with stage four cancer. The uniquely dressed young barista serving your daily latte may be wondering if there is anyone in this world who really cares about her.

Brothers and sisters, let us consider the encouragement that we have from being included in Christ Jesus and join him in sharing his love and faith to build those around us.

Presented by Jeff Broadnax


About the presenter:
Jeff Broadnax is an elder in Grace Communion International serving as a Regional Director of the Eastern U.S.A.  The Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/ ), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. 

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