There’s an old fable that one day the devil was having a sale, hawking his many diabolical tools of the trade. Each of the devil’s tools was on display with its price tag attached—tools such as the arrow of jealousy, the hammer of anger, and the dagger of worry. His tools also included the slingshot of doubt and the axe of hatred, along with numerous others.
But one tool was displayed prominently on a pedestal high above the others. It was dented and worn with use. A curious shopper inquired about the price and why such an old and worn tool was displayed so visibly.
“Ah, yes,” said the devil, “THAT’S THE WEDGE OF DISCOURAGEMENT. It is my favorite tool of all. It’s so easy to use and hardly takes any effort. All I have to do is get the very tip of the wedge into my victim and the rest is
easy. Once the wedge is in, I just tap it ever so slightly and it slides in deeper and deeper. Sometimes I don’t have to do anything—my victims drive the wedge in all by themselves!”
“A small opening soon becomes a gaping crack, making room for the rest of my tools. Before you know it, my wedge has completely split a person’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations in two. That’s why the wedge of discouragement commands such a high price—because it’s my most effective tool. It has opened more doors for me than all my other tools combined.”
The Antidote is Encouragement
Indeed discouragement is a universal problem. None of us are exempt. It affects the young and the aged. Rich and poor. Male and female. Even faithful Christians like preachers, pastors and Bible teachers.
Maybe this is why God places a high value on encouragement. It is important to our Christian walk and to our ability to remain faithful. Christianity was never meant to be a solo act. We are not created to go it alone. We need each other.
Paul exhorted, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess 5:11).
To encourage is to inspire, embolden, and hearten. It suggests “the raising of one’s confidence, especially by an external agency.” Christians are to be agents of encouragement. The Hebrew writer admonished “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb 3:13).
In Romans 12, Paul spoke of the various gifts we have been given and types of ministries in which we are to engage and said, “if it is encouraging, let us encourage.”
How Are We Encouraged?
1. By what we sense. Job’s three friends came to encourage him in a time of deep despair. In the end, they became a discouragement! But they did do something right in the beginning, they came and sat with him for seven days and said nothing! Job sensed their encouragement.
We often speak of “being there” for another. When we are, emotionally, as well as physically, they sense our encouragement.
2. By what we read. The letters of the New Testament were often written for the purpose of encouragement. Encouragement to remain faithful. To overcome sin. To correct wrongs. To grow in faith. Reading the Word will encourage you.
We may also encourage others by the notes, cards, letters and emails that we send. I am blessed to receive so much encouragement in this fashion. I never, ever take it for granted. I never tire of hearing it. And I am always lifted when I read the encouraging words from my friends and spiritual family.
3. By what we hear. “Anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad” (Prov. 12:25). A good word lifts. Brings a smile to the face. Clears a tear from the eyes. Encourages the heart that is heavy.
4. By what we feel. The touch of another’s hand. A warm embrace. A pat on the back. These non verbal actions transmit encouragement to others. The wise man said, “there is a time to embrace” (Eccl. 3:5). Ever notice how many times it says Jesus touched someone? The Bible even speaks of “the holy kiss” among the brethren. The point is we are encouraged by what we feel from others.
Look around for a discouraged friend, family member or fellow-Christian that needs some encouragement. You won’t have to look very long. Then lend a hand. Share your heart. Pour some encouragement into their soul.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman