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Don’t Go Down with the Ship

• Annie Perdue-Olson

Our world is often filled with stress and trials. As discouragement builds in our lives, we have a natural desire to build up defensive walls to protect ourselves from being hurt by a hurtful world. Unfortunately, these defenses can lead toward increasing self-centeredness, frustration, and even unbelief against God. The biblical author of the “Hebrews” letter understood this behavior pattern well. In chapter 3, the author uses a tragic story to speak a word about something important and urgent: the need for encouragement.

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Our world is often filled with stress and trials. On some days, discouraging things seem to rush quickly at us from all sides. On other days, there may be some slow, yet troubling events that drag us down, both physically and emotionally. As discouragement builds in our lives, we have a natural desire to build up defensive walls to protect ourselves from being hurt by a hurtful world. Unfortunately, these defenses can lead toward increasing self-centeredness, frustration, and even unbelief against God. The biblical author of the “Hebrews” letter understood this behavior pattern well. In chapter 3, the author describes how the Israelites wandered away from God during their 40-year journey in the desert wilderness. God had powerfully rescued them from Egypt, but the Israelites allowed hardships and disappointments in the wilderness to come between them and God. The author uses this tragic story to speak a word of warning about something important and urgent: the need for encouragement. The author makes it clear that the situation is serious enough where encouragement must be a priority every day of our lives. We must always look for ways to give and receive encouragement. This way, we work against the constant push of discouragement and disappointment in life.
When scripture talks about encouragement, it is not just talking about simple compliments or minor gift giving. Scripture speaks of encouragement from at least four different angles.

Affirmation – Encouragement can occur when people express belief and support in one another.
Testimony – Encouragement can come in the form of stories that uplift others and demonstrate the awesome love and power of God.
Hope – Encouragement flows from the Scriptures as they point the way to the ultimate hope, the Lord Jesus.
Counsel – Encouragement may be a wise word or a serious reminder, given in love to help another.

The true power of encouragement is found within the word of warning in Hebrews 3. As we give more and more encouragement to one another, we are strengthening ourselves so that we are able to endure things well when disappointments or setbacks happen. We lower our chances of falling into a state of selfishness or unfaithfulness in response to the negativity all around us. Encouragement becomes even more powerful when it is shared in good, healthy relationships. An encouraging word from a stranger is great. An encouragement from a person we are in relationship with can make a deep and wonderful impact upon our lives.

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Topics: Hope, Relationships


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Focus Scripture:

  • Hebrews 3: 13; I Thessalonians 5: 11

    But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
    Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

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