Grief consumed me, like a monster gulping down its meal.
I sat on my bed, tears streaming down my face.
It was a few months after my cousin had suddenly died and I didn’t understand why God would let him die- especially with no warning.
I felt alone and mournful, and cried out to God, hoping He would hear me.
A moment later, my phone buzzed. I wiped my eyes as I looked down at it. I had a text from my friend, Colleen.
“Hey Kara, I saw this verse and I really liked it. I thought I would pass it along to you. ‘I have told you these things so that in me you would have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.’ -John 16:33.”
My mouth dropped open.
Not only had God just answered my prayer, telling me that He did care about me and wanted me to have peace, but He used one of my dear friends to answer it.
How cool is our God?!?
That moment happened nearly 4 years ago, yet it still reminds me of the impact an encouraging friend can make.
Why encouraging friends is important:
Sometimes when we encourage others, it does far more than just put a smile on their face.
Sometimes it reminds them of a Biblical truth that they desperately need reminding of, like how I needed to be reminded that Jesus has overcome the world.
1. To sharpen each other
“As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens a friend.” -Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
When we encourage our friends, we help them grow in their walk with Christ. We “sharpen them,” so to speak.
2. A friend knows when a friend is struggling
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” -Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
Who knows us better than our friends?
And don’t we know our best friends better than anybody?
So who better to encourage someone who’s hurting than a friend?
3. We are commanded to encourage each other
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
This verse is in the context of Paul encouraging the Thessalonians that whether they live or die, they are in Jesus. The “Therefore” of 1 Thess. 5:11 points back to that. (You can read the whole passage here.)
Thus, we should encourage our friends in light of our salvation- Jesus died for us and now we live for Him, and we should encourage others to live in Him as well.
4. Because sin is deceitful
“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.” -Hebrews 3:13 (ESV)
Sin is deceitful, y’all! It’s so easy to get sucked into sin without even realizing it.
We need good godly friends who will call us out on our sin and we need to be that godly friend to others as well.
And now we come to the question: How can we encourage our friends?
Four simple ways we can encourage our friends:
1. Write a Letter
I don’t know about you, but getting a letter in the mail always makes my day.
When I was younger, my friends and I would write letters back and forth, and these letters tended to be “newsy-” about what was going on in our lives at that moment.
This is fine and dandy; letter writing is a great way to fill a friend in on the details of our lives.
But if we leave it there, what eternal significance have we made? Why not rather take part of the letter (if not the whole thing) to share about what God has been doing in our lives lately? Or share something encouraging we’ve noticed God doing in the life of our friend?
Give of your time, yourself, and your resources.
Have something that your friend needs? Give it to them.
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” -Matthew 5:42 (NIV)
Show that you’re willing to make an investment in them, not only because you love them, but because Jesus loves them too.
3. Text a Verse
You saw the power this can have through my example above.
So if you find a verse that speaks to you, type it out in a text message and send it to a friend. You don’t know if maybe that’s exactly what they needed to hear right at that moment.
Pray before you send the text.
Pray that God would reveal to you who to send the text too, and pray that you’re sending it for the right motives- that God’s kingdom would be furthered, not that you would look super spiritual.
4. Pray for Them
This is probably the best thing you can do for a friend.
Prayer changed lives, because prayer is us talking to God and God changes lives.
Pray for God to be first in your friend’s life. That He would be first in your friendship. Open up your Bible and pray verses over your friend.
Don’t know what to pray? Text them and ask if there’s anything you can pray for for them. And then pray- right then and there.
I want to challenge you to pick one of the above four ways and go out and encourage a friend.
I dare you to build a habit of encouragement into your life, so that you may glorify our Father everywhere you go.
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