The Encourager

Encouragement is God's work, in, for, and through us.

Encouraged and Encouraging (7)

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Greek: παράκλητος – parakletos – Helper, Comforter, Encourager], that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14.15-18

Another Encourager
The disciples were not encouraged by Jesus telling them that He was going away and they would see Him no more (Jn. 14.1; 15.27, 28; 16.5, 6). But Jesus assured them it was for the best that He should return to the Father; for, as He said, if He did not go to the Father, the Encourager would not come to them (Jn. 16.7). But Jesus promised to send the Encourager, Whom He identified as the Spirit of truth (Jn. 16.13).

The ascended Christ sends the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in all who believe, that He might continue the work of encouragement Jesus began while He was on earth. We have already seen how this encouragement was wrought in and by Barnabas. Every believer, all in whom the Spirit of truth has come to dwell, should expect to be encouraged and to be an encourager to others.

This is in line with Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians, that we should encourage one another (1 Thess. 5.11).

But, as we have also seen, encouragement like Jesus gave when He was on earth is not merely some word of affirmation or some enthusiastic “at-a-boy” for a job well done. True encouragement infuses courage into the heart, enabling us to undertakings which take us beyond our comfort zone into areas of uncertainty, risk, difficulty, perhaps even danger, but with the hope and expectation of fruitfulness, resulting in glory to God.

Jesus has sent His Spirit, our Encourager, to ensure that we are always able to know and do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we’ve ever dared to ask or think by the power of the Encourager, at work within us (Eph. 3.20). Our responsibility is to seek such encouragement as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling, knowing that it is God Himself, in the Person of the Encourager, Who is at work within us to will and do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.12, 13).

And that lifestyle of encouraging and being encouraged begins by understanding what the Encourager is working to accomplish within us, and how He works to do it. 

The Encourager at work
Jesus has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us and in us as our permanent Encourager. His work is to so affect and transform us, heart and mind and conscience, that we actually increase into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18), doing those good works which are the evidence that we are God’s workmanship (Eph. 2.8-10).

The Spirit exerts holy and spiritual power within us, power so abundant and strong that it works to make us willing and able to do whatever God requires (Phil. 2.13; cf. Ezek. 36.26, 27). If you are a believer, this power dwells in you; this Spirit has taken up residence in your soul; and this Holy Encourager is primed and ready to do a good work in and through you for the glory of God and the blessing of others and yourself.

His aim above all things is to glorify Jesus Christ (Jn. 16.14), that is, to have Him and His Presence known to, in, and through us – the Light of the world shining in our souls and through all our words and deeds. He does this by testifying of Jesus, opening the eyes of our heart so that we may see Him exalted in glory and be filled with Him in all things (Jn. 15.26, 27; Eph. 1.15-23). The Spirit teaches us all things by comparing spiritual things with spiritual things, from the Word of God and all creation, so that we see the glory of Jesus revealed on every hand (Jn. 14.16; 1 Cor. 2.12, 13; Jn. 5.39; Ps. 19.1-4). He reminds us, throughout the day, of the things we are seeing about Jesus and learning of Him (Jn. 14.16; Eph. 4.17-24). He guides us into all truth (Jn. 16.13) and, in the process, convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 16.8-11). He brings forth holy spiritual fruit in us (Gal. 5.22, 23), equips us with spiritual gifts for making disciples and building His Church (1 Cor. 12.7-11), and empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus Christ by the way we live and the testimony we speak of Him (Acts 1.8).

Jonathan Edwards observed that, where the Spirit of God is doing that work which distinguishes His Presence in the world, delight in God’s Word increases; love for Jesus grows; hatred of sin works to rid us of it; and love for our neighbors abounds in all we do.

To summarize, the Spirit of God is at work in us to give us the courage to live lives of overcoming self, walking on waters of one kind or another, bearing bold witness to Jesus, and encouraging others in their walk with and work for the Lord.

Filled, or quenching?

No wonder Paul exhorts us to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5.18-21), to submit to His teaching, hearken to His convictions, nurture His fruit, put His gifts to work, draw on His power for witness, and press on in all aspects of our lives that more of Jesus and less of us may be daily in evidence.

The Spirit of God in us strives and stretches and longs to become larger in us, filling us with courage to live for Jesus in everything we do. As we are filled with the Spirit, we will walk in Him (Gal. 5.16-22), and as we walk in Him we will be encouraged to focus more on Jesus, undertake more unto His glory, be more active in Him, and encourage others toward the same ends.

In 1 Thessalonians 5.19, Paul instructs us, “Do not quench the Spirit.” It seems we’re either being filled with and walking in the Spirit, or we’re quenching Him. We’re either sowing to the Spirit or we’re sowing to the flesh (Gal. 6.8). Either we’re being encouraged by the Spirit, and He is encouraging others through us, or we have become a bottleneck and logjam in that great work of bringing courage to the hearts of God’s people for good works of love beyond anything they’ve ever known.

Being encouraged by the Spirit to good works of love is thus a choice. You can choose to seek Him, submit to Him, be taught and empowered by Him; or you can choose to ignore His Presence in you, keep to the safe and easy path; and never fully realize the exceedingly abundantly more and more power of Jesus to encourage you and others through you.

It’s your choice. Choose wisely. Choose courageously. Choose to be encouraged.

For reflection or discussion
1. How do you experience the Spirit striving and stretching out and longing within you?

2.  What does it mean to “be filled” with the Holy Spirit? To “walk” in Him?

3.  What are we expected to “sow” to the Spirit each day?

Next steps – Preparation: Wait on the Lord in prayer, asking Him to show you any are in your life where you are not submitted to His Holy Spirit. Give those areas over to Him immediately.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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