“Discouragement is the cancer of the soul. Fear debilitates and cripples a person from believing God and taking risks. These two are master strokes of the enemy, for we are most vulnerable when fear and discouragement begin to control us” (Barnabas International).
We live in a fallen world, and the Enemy provides endless opportunities for us to be discouraged and fearful. So it makes sense that the Word of God, our spiritual armor, is filled with examples of people encouraging others:
Moses encouraging and strengthening Joshua (Deuteronomy 3:27–28); Paul’s letters of encouragement to the early churches — and even sending people to encourage them — and accounts of Barnabas, whose name actually means “son of encouragement.” In the New Testament alone, encouragement is mentioned as a duty of believers more than 30 times.
And as those biblical examples show us, encouragement is not giving false hope based on empty flattery. It requires us to invest enough time with the discouraged person to truly understand their situation, to know them so that we can offer sincere hope and build their confidence by centering on their strengths, talents, potential, and emphasizing their contributions.
Most people need a little encouragement to allow them to become all that God intends for them to be. As we think back on our own lives, each of us can remember times when we were alone in our discouragement, fear, and doubt.
What a blessing a word of genuine encouragement would have been! Our loving Father understands this, and He is faithful in His walk with us. But He also commands each of us to walk alongside our brothers and sisters with a spirit of encouragement.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. —Hebrews 3:13, NIV
Prayer: Lord, your Word gives us many examples of how we are to encourage one another. We pray that you will cultivate a spirit of encouragement in our hearts so that we may be used by you to build up our brothers and sisters in your name.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Hanson is Vice President of the Office of Risk Management at the Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Read all the One in Spirit  devotionals.