Encouragment: Much more than ‘being nice’
– By Ron Simkins
I have been claiming for several weeks now that being a community that wants to be encouraging is one of the most counter-cultural, Jesus-like things we can emphasize in our polarized world and culture.
It seems to me, though, there’s a danger that we will hear the challenge to ‘be encouraging” as nothing more than a challenge to “be nice.” Now, I am all for niceness and civility. They are important. But, they fall far short of the Biblical challenge to be an encouraging community.
The main Greek word translated to “encourage” in the New Testament is parakaleo. Parakaleo is also the source of the noun that is used to designate the Holy Spirit—paraklete. So, in New Testament terms, when we emphasize “encouraging” we are right at the heart of spirituality and of spirit-filled living. The Holy Spirit is the “Encourager,” and the Holy Spirit in us makes us people who are both “encouraged” by God’s presence and who are “encouraging” to others.
What does it mean to be “encouraging?” The English background of the word is to “put courage in” another person. Not a bad thing to have happen to you! The Greek word encompasses an even bigger concept. In fact, the word is so big that Biblical translators use all of the following words to translate parakaleo: encourage, comfort, console, challenge, exhort, invite, summons, beseech, urge, call to one’s side, appeal, request, entreat, implore, beg….
If we are able to become more fully an encouraging community, it will be because we are becoming more full of the Holy Spirit—the paraklete. This will begin to make both major and subtle changes in all of the following areas of our lives:
– Small group
– Work life
– Neighbors and strangers
– Emails & phone calls
– Theological arguments
– How we talk about others when those people are not present
– Future of New Covenant Fellowship
– Witness of NCF for Jesus in this community
– Our joy in Christ as individuals and community
These all seem like pretty good places to start opening up to more transformation, as we strive together to be Christ-like individuals and community! If you’ve experienced this happening in your life, please consider sharing it with us. Blessings!