By Karen Friday
What would a glorious gift not found under your tree look like this year?
When you think of Christmas gifts, your thoughts likely ponder what to buy for the family member who has everything. Or you think about the person who is particular in taste.
Perhaps you wonder what treasures are under the tree for you.
Imagine someone asked you to make a list of the top presents money cannot buy, but that you enjoy receiving and giving. These gifts are intangible, yet they gift you with some of the most important and glorious things in life—timeless and priceless in every way.
Would encouragement make your list?
While encouragement isn’t wrapped and tied with a colorful bow, neatly tucked under your tree, it’s a great present to both receive and give.
Encouragement is a gift everyone needs, not only at Christmastime, but also year-round. Because who doesn’t need encouragement? I know sometimes I’m even desperate for it when I’m really down in the pits. It’s a gift everyone enjoys receiving.
The Gift of Encouragement
How do you define encouragement? Google defines it: the action of giving someone support, confidence or hope. On the flip side, discouragement means: a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.
Encouragement brings life and hope and redirects your heart. Encouragement kicks discouragement to the curb.
Encouragement gifts you with the support, inspiration, confidence, hope, and courage you need, when you need it the most.
Practical Encouragement to Receive and Give
Examples of encouraging words you can humbly and authentically receive and give.
· I believe in you.
· I’m so proud of you.
· I’m cheering you on!
· Don’t lose heart.
· You have my support.
· You’re the best.
· Never, ever, give up!
Actions also offer encouragement to you and others.
· A friend meets you for coffee during a discouraging time.
· You receive a text with encouraging scripture or a prayer.
· Someone is there for you during an illness or tragedy or hardship.
· An email brightens your day.
· A card or letter in the mail lifts your spirits.
· A family member listens to what you have to say—they stay present in the present.
Are these gifts you receive and give to the people God has already placed in your life?
Biblical Encouragement to Receive and Give
Here are Bible verses on encouragement you can ponder:
· Encouragement in your faith. “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12 (ESV)
Paul shows the importance of gathering with other Christians and doing life together. Because our spiritual gifts not only strengthen others, but we “mutually” encourage each other’s faith (support, confidence and hope).
This is why mentoring relationships and small groups in person and online, like here at A Wife Like Me, encourage you in your faith.
· Encouragement in building each other up. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
This passage describes the day of the Lord (His return). “Therefore” means to encourage our brothers and sisters to live in Christ because of the hope we have in our salvation (verses 8-10). Again, we give support, confidence and hope.
· Encouragement for your heart. Paul writes about his desire to see believers face to face “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3 (ESV)
Through love and full assurance of our spiritual riches and treasures in Christ, our hearts are encouraged (support, confidence and hope).
An Important Gift
When you reflect on all you know and believe about encouragement, conclude how it’s a glorious gift to receive and give. While it may not be under your tree, you can choose to wrap it in love and humbly offer it this Christmas and year-round.
Wife Step: Think about what encourages you and share it with your husband and family members. Ask God to help you be an encouragement to your friends and family in practical and biblical ways.
Karen Friday is a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader. A blogger, Karen “Girl” Friday engages a community every week, Hope is Among Us. She has published a number of articles and devotions in both print and online media, and is currently working on her first book. Vulnerable about her own marriage journey, Karen knows life never gets more real than as a wife. Karen and her husband Mike have two grown children and two grandchildren. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday.” They owe Monday an apology. Visit her blog at KarenGirlFriday.com