>by Allen White

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3

In Paul’s letters to the churches, the word “encouragement” is often accompanied by sending a person. Somehow encouragement couldn’t be adequately delivered long distance. There is no encouragement without an encourager. The Thessalonians needed encouragement. Timothy was the encourager.

As believers, we can fulfill both parts of the equation. Sometimes we need encouragement. We need to know that someone cares about us. We don’t need someone to fix our problems. We just need someone to help us process our problems. We need someone to help us escape from our stinkin’ thinkin’. We need more than a recitation of Romans 8:28 and a pat on the head. We need Jesus with skin on to be there for us.

Who encourages you? Who prays for you? Every believer needs at least one person in his/her life who loves you, but is not impressed with you. If you don’t have that person, then ask God to bring that person into your life. Sooner or later, you will need that 2 a.m. phone call. Whose number is it?

We can also be the encourager. A quote I often overuse is from Chuck Swindoll, “Every person you see is a person in need of encouragement” — believe it or not. Whether they look like they have it all together or they look like a mess, they need your encouragement.

One of the best places that I’ve found to give and receive encouragement is in a small group. Why do we need such a formal group of friends? A small group has the express purpose of pointing us back to God’s Word. It’s intentional. It’s on purpose. Left to ourselves, we tend to drift. Our group can get us back on course.

If you’re not in a small group, then find one. With all the DVD curriculum out there these days, you don’t need a “teacher.” The DVD provides the teaching. I would recommend that you find a few people that you actually like and start there.

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