A Biblical Framework for Encouragement: Creator

Encouragement is an underestimated force in our lives. It has the power to redirect our steps, change our future, eclipse our past and fill our present with courage. Scripture calls us to the great work of infusing hope in others through encouragement. In the next four posts we will develop a biblical framework for thinking on and practicing encouragement.Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 6.03.45 PM

When you think about the most encouraging character in the Bible who comes to mind? Barnabas. Guaranteed it’s Barnabas. He was so encouraging that they renamed him “the son of encouragement.” But you see, Barnabas is a pale reflection, a faint whisper of the Greatest Encourager.

When building a framework you start with the foundation.

Take a look at this text from Romans 15:5-6, it provides the starting point for our discussion.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Encouragement in this verse is a descriptor of the character and nature of God himself. It does not merely say that God does some encouraging here and there. It says that he is the Encouraging God—the God who encourages…we are talking about a posture, a way of existing, a way of interacting.

The most encouraging being in existence is God himself. The storyline of Scripture is replete with examples of a God who encourages, who infuses hope and who instills courage. How encouraging were the strolls with God in the garden? How encouraging was it when the original rebellion was met with clothing for naked bodies and a promise of a Serpent-Crusher?

What about the safety of the ark, the rainbow reminder that the earth will never be flooded again? What about the promise and birth of Isaac? Don’t forget the Exodus, the taking of the promised land, the provision of the tabernacle and temple, the rise of righteous kins, the comforting words of the prophets and the promises of a coming Messiah.

The Encouraging God bursts onto the scene in the incarnation—he comes walking in the flesh. In Christ we see what divine encouragement looks like. We see it in his words and actions. Read the gospels, watch Christ interact and you will see encouragement. In the good news we find our greatest encouragement, something we will see further into our blog series. The New Testament letters are filled with encouragement flowing from the gospel for the church.

The New Testament ends with a burst of encouragement. The return of Christ, the future hope, the new heavens and new earth, the end of sorrow, the presence of God, and an eternity of hope! In the next few posts we will look at four pillars of encouragement throughout Scripture. There are many anchor points we could focus on, but I have chosen four that explicitly link the language of encouragement to their themes. At the root of all encouragement is our Creator, God himself. He is the great Encourager—everything we will explore flows out of his heart and his activity.

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2 comments

  1. Kory,

    Thks for drawing out the Romans text allowing us to reflect on the God of Encouragement. This is such a powerful yet often underdeveloped dimension of understanding who God wants to be for us.

    With your blog reflection in my mind, I prayed morning prayer today and it occurred to me that often a source of discouragement in our lives is sin or the wake of our sin. While the devil is the ‘great tempter’ trying to lead us to rebellion against God and against our own good, at the moment we fall to sin, the devil does not depart from us but rather he than becomes the ‘great accuser’. His uses the sin that we have just fallen to as a source to lead us to discouragement and ultimately despair. His tactic is to get us to despair of God’s mercy, believing that we are beyond redemption. This path begins with the sense of discouragement.

    But our God will have none of that discouragement going on in us! So at the moment of our sin; the sin that rejected Him, the sin that wounds His love, He breaks in our lives to encourage us.

    Psalm 51, one of the psalms of repentance really spoke to me this morning as a psalm of encouragement in the face of discouragement of sin. King David, facing the sin of his life is called, not to despair but to be encouraged and be moved to repentance for his grave sins,

    A few of the stances from Ps 51 that give me encouragement in the wake of sin are the following:

    In deed you love truth in the heart;
    then in the secret of my hear teach me wisdom.
    O purify me, then I shall be clean;
    O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

    Make me hear rejoicing and gladness.
    that the bones you have crush may revive.
    From my sin turn away you face
    and blot out all my guilt.

    A pure hear t create for me, O Lord,
    put a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me away for you presence,
    nor deprive me of your holy Spirit.

    Give me the joy of your help
    with a spirit of fervor sustain me,
    that I may teach transgressors your ways
    and sinner may return to you.

    I find tremendous encouragement in our merciful God, who is so great that He, in the dark occasion of our sin- a potential source of discouragement, lifts us up and fill us with encouragement.

    1. Father Mike, brother as always it is so great to hear from you and to have your input. Thank you for the insight on one of the greatest sources of discouragement (sin) and the greatest active discourager (satan)—I couldn’t agree more. I connected with your statement “he breaks in our lives to encourage us” in the midst of our sin and brokenness. He is the greatest active encourager (God) and he brings the greatest source of encouragement (the gospel) to us in our time of need.

      Your thought that discouragement is a stepping stone to despair made me think about the spectrum of encouragement and discouragement—-our level of hope dictates where we fall on the spectrum. We can be filled with hope or practically devoid of it altogether. God is always pushes us toward the fulness of hope.

      Thanks for the comments—look forward to further dialogue.

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