Encourage Yourself

Bill Brinkworth

One of the most debilitating forces we all face is discouragement. Most have started out with much zeal and hope of accomplishing great goals. Those that are just saved are excited and zealous about doing something for God; however, they are often halted from doing what they planned.  The goal or dream they wanted to obtain required more effort to achieve than they had expected, or perhaps someone’s “help” discouraged them from even trying. Maybe an unkind word or even another’s disapproving look took the air out of their sails, and they drifted off course, never to accomplish what they had set out to do.

Encouragement may be needed more often when one is younger.  One that has just been saved may require more encouragement, than one that has been saved for a while.  However, one should never use lack of encouragement or support as an excuse not to do what is right.

No matter the age, all get discouraged from time-to-time. What do we do when we are slowed or halted, because of overwhelming disenchantment?  Too many get discouraged and go no further, until they are encouraged.  This is never a solution to the problem. You will find, however, that God has provided wisdom for Christians to deal with discouragement.

The first step should be to get your mind off yourself, and put God first in your life (Galatians 2:20, Gal. 5:24-25, II Corinthians 5:15, Romans 14:7).  If we find ourselves discouraged, it is usually because our emphasis is not on Him, but on ourselves.  “Gulp!  So it may be my fault I want to quit, not others.”  If I am part of the problem, then I can be part of the solution.

The Bible instructs us to stop worrying about ourselves.  Some of our happiest, most encouraging memories are those of when we put our energies into making another person feel good. A self-centered person is often unhappy and discouraged. God knows that if we encourage those around us, when we are in need of uplifting, there will be one to meet our needs in that area.  Those that criticize and wound those around them with their cruel tongue and attitude should not be surprised that there is no one around to help them in their time of need.

Moses, who experienced discouragement many times, knew what an encouraging word could do. When turning his responsibility of leadership over to Joshua, Moses told the people that they needed to encourage their new leader (Deuteronomy 1:28, 3:28).  He also reminded them of how critical talk had disheartened them in the past.

Hezekiah, when trying to get Israel to once again serve the Lord, instructed the people to obey the law of God and give to the servants of God like they were supposed to; so they would be encouraged (II Chronicles 31:4). Josiah also knew the priests would be encouraged, when others obeyed God’s command and served God properly (II Chron. 35:1-2). 

There certainly will be times when no support comes from anyone around us.  What does one do then? Most of the time, the only one that can really encourage us, is ourselves.  When the people of Israel were commanded to battle an opponent they did not want to fight, no cheerleaders ran to the center of the battlefield and urged them on. They had to encourage themselves.
“And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.” Judges 20:22

David faced many disappointments and was often discouraged. The king knew people would let him down quite often; so he encouraged himself that God would help him as He had done in the past.
“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” I Samuel 30:6  

How did David encourage himself in the Lord? He did it by remembering all the hard times and difficulties that God had helped him with in the past.  If God had helped him in the past, he knew that He would help him again!   This faith gave him the assurance that no matter where he was, or what he was facing, God would help him (Psalm 42:6).

Has God helped you in the past?  If He has, and there is no unconfessed sin between you and Him, why would He not do it again?  That is encouraging.

Now I know all this but the other day, I hate to admit it, I was a little disenchanted myself. I could not pull out of it by even encouraging myself, until I walked into the nursing home where I preach each week. Almost immediately a woman wheeled over to me in her wheelchair and started boasting about God. Soon we were both bragging on Him. That encouraged me! Next, we started singing the old hymns about Him and His goodness. That encouraged me! Remembering also how good God is uplifted me. That is what encouraging oneself “in the Lord” means!

We are often unhappy when we do not get encouraged by others.  Yet, how often do we encourage others?  Sometimes it is we that do the discouraging, intentionally or not.  Although there are times for correction and rebuke, too often it does too much damage. We bring defeat to others by voicing our “opinion,” rebuking them, or even by our body language.

Our lack of work and participation can also discourage others.  Moses knew this when he rebuked the people that would not join in on a battle.  Their “letting the other guy do it” was a discouragement to those that were participating in the battle.
“… Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?  Thus did your fathers …” Numbers 32:6-8

Often our not helping in a situation makes the task harder for others to accomplish.  Many soul-winners, who wanted to do the right thing and witness to others on church-wide visitation, quit because no one else goes.  Preachers have looked for another ministry, because all the ideas they had were shot down by members or deacons.  Sunday school teachers have gone by the wayside because of little concern and participation by their students.  Mothers may have lost the enthusiasm to cook a meal after hearing only complaints.  Children gave up their dreams because of constant correction.  If you are on the sidelines because “no one cares” or “appreciates you,” consider the discouragement to others you may have caused.

God knows it is so essential that we uplift each other, that not only are we all capable of encouraging each other, but He also gives some the spiritual gift of exhorting(encouraging)others. Encouragement is necessary for believers also.
“Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:8

Sitting around discouraged will never help anyone!  The only way out of a disenchanted mind-set is to change something. Instead of waiting to be “fixed,” be a fixer! Break the sad cycle of discouragement and be an encourager.  We all could use your inspiring words.  One day, when you need it the most, there will be one nearby to lift you up with their encouraging words or actions. 
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.“ Galatians 6:9

Be encouraged! If you are a Christian, you are on the winning side!

This article was featured in The Bible View #233.  

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