Encouragers come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s a long-time friend and other days it’s a stranger in Walmart. Today it’s a spouse, tomorrow it’s a child and the next day it’s a co-worker. We all need encouragement from time to time and God graciously sets his servants in our path at just the right time. But it is not enough simply to receive it – we are to be expert givers in the field of encouragement as well.
Let me give you brief Old and New Testament examples of encouragers:
Old Testament: Samuel.
When he was getting ready to crown Saul the first king of Israel, Saul was nowhere to be found. God told Samuel that Saul was hiding out with the luggage (1 Samuel 10:20-24). That’s right. The future king and leader of God’s people was trying to disappear among the suitcases and satchels. God revealed his hiding place to Samuel and Saul was retrieved and brought before the people. But do you know what Samuel said? Did he mock, berate or humiliate the trembling Saul? No, he simply said, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people” (v. 24). I’m trying to imagine what that must have meant to Saul. To have someone put there arm around you and let you know that they still believe in you even when you’re not at your best is truly a wonderful gift.
New Testament: Tychicus
This man must have been the apostle of encouragement. The apostle Paul sends Tychicus two different times to two different churches with one mission: to encourage. In Colossians 4:7-9 and Ephesians 6:21-22 (check them out), Tychicus is sent to these churches with one mission in mind: “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.”
For some of us, praise and affirmation do not roll off our lips all that easily. That’s ok. The Bible teaches that nothing good comes naturally to us (see Romans 3:10-13) but God is ready to give us grace to be what he wants us to be. May there be a few more Samuel’s and Tychicus’ among us!
(Note: I’m not advocating a comeback in the name “Tychicus.” Some names should stay in the Bible!)