Many in God’s vineyard are “dying on the vine” for lack of encouragement from other believers. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man finds joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!” (NASB). Isn’t that true? It’s a delightful thing to receive a timely word. Proverbs 15:30 says, “Bright eyes gladden the heart; good news puts fat on the bones” (NASB). In our diet-crazed culture we can’t take that “fat” too literally, or we might never encourage others! The idea is this: An encouraging comment gives us emotional strength, lightens our heart, and firms up our resolve. One kind word can make a bad day much more bearable.
Bible commentator William Barclay wrote this in his Letter to the Hebrews: “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”
On the flip side the lack of encouragement has become epidemic. Stop and think: When was the last time someone encouraged you?
Or when have you recently encouraged someone else? An individual is never more Christlike than when moved with compassion over someone who is down, discouraged, and feeling forgotten. How terribly essential is our commitment to encouragement!
Is there some soul you know who is in need of “a timely word?” How about a student away at school or some friend in uniform, thousands of miles from home? A young couple up against it?
A divorceé struggling to gain back some self-respect? How about a lonely servant of God laboring in an obscure and difficult ministry? A widow or widower who needs your companionship? Someone who tried something and failed?
Give an apt answer. Provide a timely word. “Fatten up” a friend!
Be like Christ.
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.