Bible verses about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
In its basic meaning, encouragement is the act of giving hope or promise. The council in Jerusalem wrote a letter to the Gentile brethren in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia regarding things they should observe and not requiring them to keep Jewish law, particularly circumcision, a practice that troubled the Gentiles (Acts 15:22-29). The Jewish brethren in Jerusalem told them that they wanted "to lay no greater burden than these necessary things: that you should abstain from things offered to idols, from the blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality" (verse 29).
Acts 15:30-31 continues, "When [the brethren in Antioch] had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement [paraklesis]." The letter gave them hope that, as Gentiles, they could reach the goal set before them to overcome their sins and receive the gift of salvation without going through Judaism first. Mercy is better than sacrifice (Hosea 6:6).
Martin G. Collins
Barnabas: Son of Encouragement and Consolation
We are admonished to bond with people who will encourage our better behaviors and characteristics. We eventually take on the characteristics of the people with whom we bond. We find numerous biblical cautions on this principle or law of bonding:
» Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3)
» He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. (Proverbs 13:20)
» Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 22:24-25)
The world's psychology claims that friendship is enhanced by communication. Godly psychology stresses communication but with a slightly different emphasis. Encounter groups (products of well-meaning but misguided psychological principle) encourage, "Let it all hang out—give vent to your pent up feelings." One psychologist suggests that, if one genuinely feels like saying, "I hate you! I hate you!" he should just say it, if it is an honest feeling. However, consider God's instruction: "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back" (Proverbs 29:11).
God's psychology insists that friends build up instead of tear down. The Scripture gives ample instructions for godly communication between friends: "Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Proverbs 27:5-6).
A friend ought to be able both to offer and receive encouragement and loving criticism. As we in our local memberships now number in the teens rather than the hundreds, our faults become more transparent to one another. We need to come to appreciate both the encouragement and the candid criticism from our friends, as well as their kindness and generosity.
A friend should never commiserate with or encourage his friend's bitter attitude or rebellion against any of God's laws, statutes, or principles but should encourage him to change course:
» Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man's friend does so by hearty counsel. [A true friend both gives and accepts good counsel.] (Proverbs 27:9)
» As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
Godly communication between friends involves sharing common interests, giving and accepting advice, giving and accepting criticism, and giving and accepting encouragement. A healthy relationship requires both giving and receiving, with the primary emphasis on the way of give.
David F. Maas
Godly Friendship: A Priceless Commodity
For "makes the bones fat," the marginal reference reads, "makes the bones healthy."
"The light of the eyes" - One might think that the psalmist refers the light in one's own eyes, but in this case, it is not. It is the light in another's eyes. What would we consider to be the light in another person's eyes within the context of this verse? It has to be something that the person is joyous, happy, enthused, encouraged about. He loves whatever they heard, and when he brings this news, one can see the light in his eyes. What does it do to the observer? It picks him up, and it is good for a person to be in such a situation. This verse illustrates how an environment can produce positive effects.
We know from our own life experiences that this is so. If we step into a room charged with anger, depression, bitterness, envy, jealousy, prideful gossip, or suspicion, what happens to us? We sense it or discern it immediately. We may become defensive and want to leave just as fast as we can.
Conversely, instead of entering a room charged with a negative attitude, perhaps we encounter a positive one. It pulls us toward it and makes us want to join and enjoy the benefits of such a positive, uplifting, and good spirit.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)
Knowing that human nature loses heart over time without the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus understood that His church would need encouragement to be watchful while awaiting His second coming. For this reason, He gave the Parable of the Ten Virgins to some of the twelve disciples just days before His brutal crucifixion. The parable pictures ten virgins waiting for the Bridegroom's return. However, half of the virgins are unprepared because they lose heart in the face of their uncertainty, and as a result, they do not prepare and persevere to the end.
Jesus gives ample warning in His teaching concerning the last days and the need for spiritual preparation for them. But He also realizes that His church would need spiritual focus while waiting for His return. Therefore, He warns that lack of adequate preparation for His coming can be eternally devastating. Jesus makes the purpose of this parable clear in its last verse. "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (verse 13).
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Ten Virgins (Part One)
First, He knows all the specifics of the case. His disciples see only a funeral as they pass, but He understands the circumstances of the corpse stretched out in the coffin. He knows that the deceased is a young man, the only son of his mother, and that she is a widow!
Second, He does not wait for anyone to plead with Him. Isaiah prophesies of this in Isaiah 65:1: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me" (as quoted in Romans 10:20). Sometimes, before we call for help, He answers—what a special blessing that is (Isaiah 65:24; Daniel 9:20-23).
Third, when He sees the widowed mother, He has "compassion on her." Christ's concern is apparent in His expression of His mercy and tenderness.
Fourth, He says to her, "Do not weep," to provide comfort and encourage her.
Fifth, Jesus is not pretentious when He touches the coffin, but in humility He offers hope (Jeremiah 17:7). The widow thinks that all hope is gone, but even these dire circumstances are not enough to remove the hope found in Christ (Lamentations 3:26). Christ also shows great tenderness when "He present[s] him to his mother."
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Raising a Widow's Son
The sheep, like the lover in Song of Songs 2:14, know the voice because they know the Shepherd and trust Him. They trust His voice. In it, they hear safety, security, sustenance, joy, hope, encouragement, love, warmth, and correction that does not turn them aside. The voice is the effective means of communication between Christ and us. The voice not only identifies, but it also communicates concepts to us that reveal both character and emotion.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 4)
When we first read this verse, most of us think that Jesus is talking about miracles, signs, wonders, and healings, that is, that those of us who really believe in Him will be able to do those great works. However, He may not be thinking only about such grand acts.
He is probably also suggesting that the great works we will do are the day-to-day works of Christian living—not necessarily the ones that will make the lead story on the evening news. He means things like having good relations with one's spouse and children. He means overcoming a sin and growing in character. He means helping others in their walk toward the Kingdom of God. In the end, these are far greater works than miracles and spectacular healings.
Consider the twelve apostles. How many people did Jesus convert during His ministry? Acts 1:15 tells us that the number of disciples was only 120. Yet, just a few pages later, we find that the apostles did even greater works, baptizing 3,000 on Pentecost (Acts 2:41) and 5,000 on another day (Acts 4:4). People were saying that the apostles had "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6)! Their greater works were preaching the gospel, feeding the flock, and helping others to overcome and grow toward the Kingdom of God. Sure, they did their share of miracles, but their most lasting, eternal works were their preaching and their Christian sacrifices for the gospel.
Jesus said no one was greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11), and what did he do? He did not perform one miracle, but he preached repentance (Matthew 3:1-2), which is a great work. It makes people realize that they are sinful and that they need a Savior to redeem them and to help them turn their lives around. Many were baptized and later followed Christ.
We need to apply this personally. What great works are we supposed to do? They may be mundane—overcoming sin, growing in character, producing spiritual fruit, and encouraging others in their walk with God—but they are the day-to-day Christian activities that, in the end, will assure that not only will we be in the Kingdom but those we love and fellowship with will be too. Those are truly great works! "Miraculous" works may be flashy and draw a lot of attention, but the greatest works are the ones with eternal consequences, those that help others maintain a firm grasp on salvation.
In Acts 10:38, Peter pares the life of Christ down to just a few insightful phrases: ". . . how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good . . ." That is the gist of His life: He did good with every minute He lived. The apostle Paul gives us similar marching orders in Galatians 6:10: "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." If we follow this advice, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we will one day be where He is.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The second of the three fruits most directly associated with personal, human relationships is kindness. The translators of the King James Version render this Greek word as "gentleness." Even though gentleness is an aspect of being kind, this choice does not adequately describe the qualities the original word implies.
When Paul illustrated how love acts, patience leaped into his mind first: "Love suffers long" (I Corinthians 13:4). Immediately following, he writes, "and is kind," giving the impression that love and kindness belong together to such an extent that we can conclude that without kindness no act is truly done in love!
Patience is love forbearing. Patience suggests self-restraint under the pressure of provocation, especially undeserved provocation. Kindness, though, implies a more active expression of love toward God and fellow man. Both patience and kindness are bound in the one quality—love. Those who provoke us may never notice patient love, but patient love may reveal itself in acts of kindness so that even our provokers are positively impressed. Kindness is such a rare quality these days that when someone is kind, it has a good chance of making the news!
The love Paul expounds in I Corinthians 13 is the love of God, which found its perfectly balanced expression in Jesus Christ. His love was not only contemplative but also outgoing. Because of His love, He went about doing acts of kindness, healing, and casting out demons (Acts 10:38). The truth He preached also expressed His love. His love was not merely congeniality; it was patient, enduring, and ethical.
In most cases, kindness is not beyond any of us because it usually costs no money. It may take the sacrifice of time and energy. It may require the discipline to be thoughtful of others' needs and to make the effort to act. How much is required to cultivate smiling rather than frowning? to pay a visit? to say a word of encouragement or comfort? to show friendliness by warmly and sincerely shaking hands?
The consequences of kindness are incalculable, for such a spirit can ripple out to touch the lives of those far removed from the original act. Kindness sows the seeds that can only bear good fruit.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness
An American cliché runs, "Charity begins at home." Unfortunately, the fellowship of a local congregation is frequently the most difficult place to do good in the right spirit. This may be partly because of such misguided expectations that Christians "shouldn't have such problems," "shouldn't be causing such offenses," "should know better than that," or many other accusations about character and personality flaws that we might make.
We draw back and become weary for many reasons that appear justified: There is so much opposition to good plans for doing things. There is so much to do and, it seems, so few to do it. There are so many calls upon our time in other legitimate areas. There is all too often so much ingratitude among those whom we try to help that we become disheartened.
God has called the weak of this world, and we have brought our character weaknesses and odd personality traits with us into the church. We see people in the church who are so depressed it seems they never have a bright day. Others have cups overflowing with troubles, and they want to dump on any willing to listen. The sick, poor, foolish, weak, cynical, stubborn, critical, cutting, arrogant, aggressive, vain, discouraged, suspicious, pompous, hypocritical, and sarcastic are in every congregation. As the cartoon character Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and they is us!"
But God calls upon all of us to "strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" (Hebrews 12:12). We are to open our hearts wide in listening and generously give the benefit of knowledge, understanding, comfort, exhortation, inspiration, hope, and encouragement from our experiences, especially to those in the church. At the proper time, we can give correction in meekness, considering our own weaknesses. He commands us to open our hands wide to the poor, and He says it will be as though we are loaning the money to Him. We are to "be there" for them, not as a "know-it-all," but as a "maybe-this-will-help."
Can we not be kinder in our evaluation of another's character? If we hear a derogatory story about a brother or sister, should we not ask ourselves, "If someone heard this story about me, would I not want him to disbelieve it until he searched it out and made quite sure that it was true?" Is there not as much wickedness in believing a lie as in telling one? If we are always ready to believe derogatory stories about others, what does that say about our minds? That is hardly a kind attitude described by chrestotes, the Greek word for kindness. Will such an attitude produce unity, peace, and warm, loving fellowship?
No slanderers would exist among us if no one received or believed slander, for when there is no demand for an article, no one will produce it. If we will not believe evil reports, the discouraged talebearer will leave off his evil practice or take it elsewhere.
What if we are compelled by the facts to believe the report? A kind person shows his kindness by not repeating it. He will reason to himself, "Though this thing is true, and I am very sorry, why should I spread it to others?" It is the Christian's responsibility not to expose the brother to further disgrace unless it be absolutely needful—as sometimes it is—but always to deal with the brother in the most gentle, kindest manner possible. As the Golden Rule is commonly recited, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
God's instruction here is that "as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men." Regardless of their station in life, regardless of whether they are in the church, this high requirement stands fast. His only modification is that our brethren in the church have a higher claim on our resources. A teaching we can glean from the Parable of the Good Samaritan is that the Samaritan did not inquire whether the wounded man was "one of his own." The only criterion was that he needed an act of kindness performed for him in his desperately weakened situation.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness
Most of us realize that the unity of the church of God courses through the book of Ephesians as a general theme. Paul illustrates the church as a complete body of which Jesus, though in heaven, is the Head, and the elect here on earth comprise the rest of it. Early on, Paul declares how God has planned the organization of His purpose from the very beginning, determining whom He would call, give His Spirit to, and perfect as His children.
In Ephesians 4, the apostle begins to clarify our Christian responsibilities regarding works. He appeals to us in verse 1 to make every effort to live a manner of life that measures up to the magnificence of our high calling. He then makes sure we understand that we must carry out our responsibilities in humility, kindness, and forbearance as we strive to maintain doctrinal accord in purity.
He explains that Christ has given each of us gifts to meet our responsibilities in maintaining the unity of God's church. Foremost among these gifts are teachers who will work to equip us for service in the church and eventually in the Kingdom. This same process will enable us to grow to completion, to mature, no longer wavering in our loyalties, certain in the direction of our lives, and not deceived by the craftiness of men.
With that foundation, the "therefore" in verse 17 draws our focus to the practical applications necessary to meet the standards of the preceding spiritual concepts. We must not conduct our lives as the unconverted do. They are blinded to these spiritual realities and so conduct life in ignorance, following the lusts of darkened minds.
Because we are being educated by God, the standards of conduct are established by His truths and are therefore exceedingly higher. We must make every effort to throw off the works of carnality and strive to acquire a renewed mind through diligent, continuous effort so that we can be created in the image of God in true righteousness and holiness (verse 24).
In verses 25-29, Paul moves even further from generalities to clear, specific works that we must do. We must speak truth so that we do not injure another through lies, as well as to maintain unity. Because deceit produces distrust, unity cannot be maintained if lying occurs. We must not allow our tempers to flare out of control, for they serve as an open door for Satan to create havoc.
We must be honest, earning our way so that we are prepared to give to others who are in need. We must be careful that what we speak is not only true but also edifying, imparting encouragement, empathy, sympathy, exhortation, and even gentle correction when needed.
In verse 30 is a brief and kind reminder that, in doing our works we must never forget that we owe everything to our indwelling Lord and Master. We must make every effort to be thankful, acknowledging Him as the Source of all gifts and strengths, enabling us to glorify Him through our works.
In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul delineates specific responsibilities concerning our attitudes toward fellow Christians within personal relationships.
This brief overview of just one chapter shows clearly how much works enter into a Christian's life as practical requirements that cannot be passed off as unnecessary. How else will a Christian glorify God? How else will he grow to reflect the image of God? How else will he fulfill God's command to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19) except by faithfully doing those works that lead to life?
Through the whole process of sanctification, the Christian will make constant use of two additional works: daily prayer and Bible study, which must be combined with his efforts to obey God. No one who is careless about performing these works can expect to make progress growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ during sanctification.
Why? Without them, he will have no relationship with either the Father or the Son, and thus will not be enabled to achieve the required works. They are the Source of the powers that make it possible for us to do the works God has ordained. If we do not follow through on these two works, we will surely hear ourselves called "wicked and lazy" and be cast into "outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:24-30).
John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required To Do Works? (Part Four)
2 Thessalonians 2:15-17
So stand firm, and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father (who has loved us and given us unending encouragement and unfailing hope by his grace), inspire you with courage and confidence in every good thing you say or do. (Phillips)
When we read I and II Thessalonians, it does not appear that these people were going through any hard or difficult persecution, yet things were happening within the church. He tells these people, "Hold on!" There must have been pressure coming from somewhere to turn these people away from the truths, the traditions, they had learned from the apostles.
That causes one to think that, even though their neighbors were not persecuting them, nonetheless something was happening. They were in danger of being persuaded to turn away from the things that they had been taught.
It appears as if the focus of this pressure to which they were subject was something mental, doctrinal, and theological. So he tells them to "hold fast." The words J.B. Phillips uses in his translation sound like the words spoken in war: "Hang on! Hold fast!" he says. "May God inspire you with courage!"
John W. Ritenbaugh
Endure as a Good Soldier
The Hebrews had to be reminded in the strongest of terms that the just shall live by faith, and that God was not pleased with those who turned and ran in the day of battle. We do not want to allow ourselves to get in that fix. Nor do we want to become discouraged, thinking we will never measure up to what God requires of us and think, "This task is too hard."
Jesus, indeed, warned that the way is narrow and difficult, but it is not impossible because God has promised never to give us something that is too hard for us. God plays the game, as it were, according to the abilities of each individual. Though there is a standard against which everyone is judged, everyone is judged fairly—according to their natural ability and according to the gifts that God has given to them. Also, "to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48).
So no one can look at his neighbor and compare himself with him, because no one knows exactly where the other person stands. There has to be some tolerance of and patience with one another. We must have an attitude of forgiveness, even of encouragement. We have to do whatever we can that might help the other person make it into the Kingdom of God. That is part of our responsibility.
Besides the fact that we know those things, there is also the "great cloud of witnesses" that is mentioned in Hebrews 12:1. That is, those who have gone before and are witnesses to us that God is faithful. How are they witnesses? They finished the race, and are awaiting the resurrection! God has given us witness of their lives, and how and why they made it. This witness illustrates His involvement in their lives.
He has recorded those things so that we can understand that God will deal with us in a merciful way. He has not called us to lose us but to save us. He is able to do what He sets His hand to do. We are in good hands—the best! We are in the most secure position that we could possibly be. That "great cloud of witnesses" witnesses to us that, if they did it, we can do it too.
So there is no need to get discouraged, even though the way for each of us is just as hard, just as difficult, as it has to be. He tells us in His Word that He will do far more—over and above what we can even begin to think that He is capable of doing—to ensure that we will be saved.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction and Moses
Let us consider one another - Has there ever been a time in our calling when we need to excite one another for the work of God more than now? We all need to be motivated to "stand tall" in the Word of God. We ought to have great love for God's laws and each other. We should be performing the appropriate works attendant to our calling. In the greater church of God today, with its many differing attitudes, motivating to love and good works is very difficult to do.
Adam Clarke provides a paraphrase of Hebrews 10:24 that should help us to understand what Paul means:
Let us diligently and attentively consider each other's trials, difficulties, and weaknesses; feel for each other, and excite each other to an increase of love to God and man; and as proof of it, to be fruitful in good works.
In reality, this is just another way of saying, as Jesus did, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). Such love manifests itself, not only in feeling for others in their troubles, but also in edifying and encouraging each other to do what is godly. In this way, we share our burdens.
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Exhorting one another - Exhort means "to aid, help, comfort, encourage, and beseech." In the Babylon of this world—with all its pulls and distractions to neglect our calling—every one of us needs exhortation to strive harder to stand.
We live in what can best be described as a Laodicean environment, just as did the Hebrews to whom Paul wrote. Many today challenge the foundation laid by God through His leaders, and sadly, many call into question even the commandments of God. In such an atmosphere of doubt and distrust, we all need exhortation to be faithful in all we have learned.
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
1 Peter 1:2
Peter's words are intended, not merely to instruct, but also to encourage. We listen to God's Word because God Almighty Himself personally chose us to do so. That needs to sink into our brains and become part of how we operate our lives. We are the chosen of God, elect according to His foreknowledge. That is, before we ever knew of the true God, He was watching us. He was monitoring us and waiting for the opportunity that, at just the right time, He would reveal Himself to us in just the right circumstance, just the right environment to give us the best opportunity to respond to the truth.
We can expand this process out to include the whole church. The church exists because God willed it so. The church does not exist because of human goodness, hopes, aspirations, vision, or dreams. It exists because of the eternal purpose of God, which is both a tremendous honor and responsibility.
God, working through His Spirit (notice, "in sanctification of the Spirit"), sets us apart, consecrates us, or makes us fit for His calling. God is a creator. That fact is what Peter explains here. His calling is the first step to prepare us to inherit His Kingdom. We should not limit the calling just to the initial time that He entered our lives, and we began to understand. His calling ultimately includes the whole process.
Peter states the goal He has in mind as "obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." It is the Spirit of God that makes the calling of God effective. It is a singular act, but at some time in our lives, He "messed with" our brain—He turned the light on—and we began to respond. He did this as a singular act at a specific time, but His calling is also a process that begins with that initial act and ends with resurrection into His Family. The sanctification of the Spirit of God ties all of it together.
The initial act by God opens our mind, which is the beginning of sanctification. It is like being given a second start, which Paul calls "regeneration" (Titus 3:5). Then comes the sanctification that arises with growth, overcoming, and becoming more like God. Finally, there is glorification, which is the ultimate in sanctification. The whole process is encompassed by the calling of God, and the Spirit of God ties all of these steps together.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 3)
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