SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY
5TH SUNDAY IN LENT
MARCH 29, 2020.
Title: “Let Us Encourage One Another!”
Text: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV).
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25; 12:1-2.
One of the main challenges of life is turning things that seem to be bad for us into good. Sometimes it is difficult to see the hand of God when things go against us, for example, plans that do not materialize, schemes that fail, dreams that burst, opportunities that never come, sickness, transfer in jobs, or death. Although these things present problems for us, they also present a tremendous opportunity. One of those opportunities is the opportunity to encourage one another in the face of life’s challenges.
In a sermon titled “The Need for Encouragement,” Dr. W. Truett declared that no one is exempt from the need to be encouraged by others. This is particularly true in family circles. Husbands need encouragement from their wives and vice versa. Mothers need encouragement from their children. Children need constant encouragement from both parents. You and I need encouragement in this time of uncertainty. Our text this morning exhorts us how we can spur one another toward love and good deeds.
It is interesting to note how our text is translated by various versions. The King James version puts it, “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works” (Hebrew 10:24). Provoke means “to arouse to action, to excite, to stir up the feelings.” The word is often used with reference to arousing one to anger, but in our text it is a strong word used to encourage love and good works.
The Revised Standard Version translates the verse, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” “Stir up” means “to move, to excite, to agitate.”
The Good News translation translates the text, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.” To be concerned is to show interest or care. To help is to provide assistance.
The New International Version puts it, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” To spur is to prompt or motivate.
Whatever the version used, the verse urges us to help one another practice self-giving love and perform good works for God and others. Why is the anonymous writer of Hebrews asking us to encourage one another? Why is continuous encouragement needed in this day and time?
To begin with, it is important to let you know that encouragement is a gift from God that we are to pass on to others. Romans 12:8 let us know that “if it is to encourage, then give encouragement.” All the translation we considered in the reading of our text, we glean the central idea of showing concern for another and helping one another. So encouragement means “to exhort, to comfort, to counsel, or to help someone.” As a gift of ministry, it means to support someone, to offer a steady hand, to come alongside someone who is in need, or put your hand around someone who is about to fall.
One of the greatest duties we can perform is the duty of encouragement. In the world of today, it is easy to discourage others. It is easy to pour cold water on the enthusiasm of others.
The user of this gift excludes all selfish motives and concentrates on helping others. This gift of the Holy Spirit provides the believers with the same gift that Jesus and the Holy Spirit possess.
Having explained what encouragement is, let us know that encouragement is a necessity. Everyone of us will need encouragement during this coming week as we attempt to achieve various goals. Achievement is always the result of overcoming obstacles. In giving encouragement, let us remember that God’s will is for each of us to be a cheerleader for others. Husbands and wives should encourage each other as they work toward a happy and successful marriage. Parents should encourage their children, especially through words of appreciation. Too often parents are overly generous with criticism and stingy with encouragement. Children can greatly encourage their parents by their choices and their conduct. Let us as Christians be a part of God’s cheering squad to encourage other Christians.
Jesus certainly knew how to encourage others! Think about the time the disciples were caught in the middle of the Sea of Galilee during a fierce storm. Just when they were ready to give up, Jesus came alongside their boat and said, “Take courage, it is I!” Just before His death, Jesus spent a great deal of time encouraging His disciples.
What are the marks of people with the gift of encouragement? They are people who are willing to get involved with other people’s problems and heartaches. They are good listeners. Encouragers are sensitive to other people’s needs. Those who encourage others will offer forgiveness to those who need to make a new start.
If you have the gift of encouragement, use it. Write someone a letter, visit the sick, pat someone on the back, sit with the bereaved, share your money, be a good listener, and be available to others.
The author of Hebrews marshals the spiritual leaders of the past in chapter 11, which has been called faith’s Hall of Fame, so that they may cheer us on as we run the race that has been set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Let us encourage one another to have greater faith in God. Let us share with others our relationship with Jesus Christ so that we might impart to them the benefits of our faith. Let us encourage one another to make a sacrifice for God and for others. The measure of our sacrifice is the measure of our love and our faith. Until we are willing to sacrifice for our God and for others, our faith will not have much opportunity to develop. Let us encourage one another to dedicate ourselves to spiritual values. We live in a world that emphasizes materialistic values. The great values are in the heavenly realm. It has been said that one’s interest will always follow one’s dollars. It is true, we can be sure that our heart remains in God’s work by investing in his church with our tithes and offerings. Let us encourage one another to live with eternity in mind rather than living with no thoughts for tomorrow.
Let us encourage one another to involve ourselves in loving service so that we will truly be worth something to God and others. May the Lord enable us to cheer one another onward as he seeks to encourage us. And may he always put his SPirit within us and on us. God bless you all.