Letters of Encouragement
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Encourage/Encouragement in Greek “Oikodome” the act of building, building up, edifying; the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness. (Strong Concordance)
If you google “encourage or encouragement in the Bible”, your results could astonish you. One recent search had Bible.knowing-jesus.com providing seventy-four scriptures with the word encourage in some form; twenty-three of those deal with encourage one another.
So why? Why am I talking about encouraging one another? And why in written form? It is simple really. We need it. Think of it as healing words. The spoken words we remember the most are harsh, unkind, and soul crushing ones. But the kindly spoken words are often overlooked, dismissed, or easily forgotten.
The written word can be read again and again. From my experiences the words spoken to me I remember the most are the negative, soul crushing ones. The kind of words that label you for life. Those words are soul scars and seem to pop up when I least expect them. Those words derail me, my calling and at times my desire to live. Those words suck the life right out of me.
Chances are the person who spoke those scarring words never realized just how hurtful they were. If you are like me, they went unchecked and hidden. They became the sadness behind your eyes and the anger in your words.
What I just wrote is why we need to start writing letters of encouragement. These letters by design are meant to build another up and open their eyes to see how others see them. Then, hopefully, they will start to see how God sees them.
When we can only see ourselves through the negative words spoken to us over the years, then we fail to see the good. We fail to see ourselves as worthy, valuable, desirable, or even loveable. We start reinforcing those negative words with lies and avoidance.
Unloved - loved Romans 8:39
Unworthy - worthy Revelation 3:4
Ugly - Beautiful Ecclesiastes 3:11
Neurotic - Wonderfully made, Amazing, Marvelous Psalm 139:14
Piece of work - Masterpiece Ephesians 2:10
Uninvited - Chosen 1 Thessalonians 1:4
Weak - Strong Philippians 4:13
Never Enough - Enough 2 Corinthians 12:9
This short chart should be referred to frequently by anyone who feels the things on the left. The list in the middle shows the counter of the left, and the list on the right are the scriptures that reference the middle. (A side note: “neurotic” should never be used as a weapon. Anxiety and depression are real and our attempts to better ourselves should never be used against us. If you are anxious or depressed, scriptures alone cannot remove or help these mental illnesses—compassion from others is needed. Please seek help for this but use the scriptures as encouragement. You are not your mental illness, meaning not defined by it.)
As we start seeing ourselves through scriptures, it will change us. It will change our view of God too. He is who created us, designed us, and takes delight in us. His word trumps what anyone else says or thinks we are!
Write a letter first to yourself. Use the middle and right columns to speak God’s truth into your life. Give the letter to someone safe (not judgmental or gossipy) to read. Then ask them to write you an encouraging letter, take the time to write them one too. Before too long you will have a stack of encouragements to read when those words/feeling from the left column come calling.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”