Hebrews 3:13. "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
This verse is my achilles heel. Can I really say that I exhort (encourage) others every day? Not at all. Do I realize that my encouragement may protect myself and others from the deceitfulness of sin? I sure don't act like I believe that.
I love to laugh. Throughout my life, I've always used laughter to build friendship and intimacy. But often, in my pursuit of laughing with others, I don't allow my speech to be gracious (Col 4:6) and encouraging. In my fear of sounding "church-y," I've completely left the "language of the church." As the church, we're called to lift one another up with our language, and not make quick jab after gentle dig for a cheap laugh.
I'm also a person who is not afraid of confrontation. We all need confrontation from time to time. We need brothers and sisters to point out our sin and point us to Jesus. But my goal at the moment is to encourage others at least ten times for every time I confront others. I must be a person (and we must be a people) who encourages and lifts one another up!
I recently learned 3 keys to good encouragement, and they're money. I challenge you to encourage 2 people this week with these in mind!
1. Specific - Instead of saying "Hey! Good job!" Try speaking specifically what you think God is doing in their life or what they are doing well! This makes encouragement much more deep and meaningful!
2. Strength Focused - All of us are gifted by God in different ways, try to recognize those giftings and talk to your brothers and sisters about it. If we do this well, many of us may discover our spiritual giftings for the first time! This is a way to "fan into flame the gifts God has given you" (2 Tim 1:6)
3. Sincere - Always check your motives. Some folks encourage others so that they can gain favor. This is called flattery and it could actually have the opposite effect as to what you desire. It could actually push your friends away (Proverbs 26:28). But encouragement out of a sincere heart are words of life!