For the past month I’ve been living “up close and personal” with eleven other friends on this outreach through the Balkans. Typically we’re together every waking moment in cars, hostels, outreach activities, and meals. For all practical purposes the only time I’m not with the team is when I’m asleep or in the restroom!
The whole experience has been an exercise in sanctification as we’ve worked through the challenges of living together in “cramped community.” And in these conditions I’ve been noticing how crucial a few words of encouragement can be to another person. It’s so important, I believe, that it’s actually a form of spiritual warfare.
We humans often drift through our days to the devil’s dirge of accusation and inadequacy: “I’m not good enough. I’m too fat, too skinny, too plain, too uneducated, too clumsy, too old to have what it takes.” But the voice of Jesus offers a different story: “You can do all things through Christ.” (Phil 4:13); “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) “You are my beloved” (1 Cor. 15:58); “You are more than a conqueror…” (Rom. 8:37) and a thousand other encouraging words to the ones who are joined to Him.
I’ve gotten a bit hooked this trip on watching the faces of my friends light up by a few simple words of encouragement. And I’ve become convinced that it’s neither a game nor just a good thing to do. Encouragement is a direct strike at the heart of the devil’s kingdom, taking out the lies that drag us down to the the grave.
“So then, encourage one another and build each other up, as you are doing.”
-1 Thess. 5:11