The Gift of Encouragement

"But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."--Hebrews 3:13 Well, today is moving day. The past week has been a blur of activity, and the combination of hard work and little sleep, even though it has been good work, has left me feeling grumpy. And you know what that means. My world tends to turn inward. People become irritations, even those I profess to love. My temptation is to think of myself and enjoy a pity party.

This is not a new pattern. Rather, it has been one that I cycle through rather regularly. When my husband also has a busy week, then this is where the enemy really nabs us. With both of us in our own little worlds, watch out! All it takes is one little comment, said with that nasty little tone, and the walls go up.

I don't think it's because Satan is purposely setting us up to knock us down. I think we do that quite well ourselves, thank you very much. Our flesh eggs us on to look out for ourselves, and I fall in that temptation all the time. From there, it isn't too hard for Satan to stick the knife in and twist the handle.

During our marriage retreat this weekend, the Lord opened my eyes to this pattern. I don't think I really put the two together before. Satan doesn't need major problems to drive a marriage apart. He can do just as much damage with the little things in life.

As I look forward to the big move today and as I reflect on today's gift, I can see how this gift can be so important. Instead of looking at my husband as my adversary, I can choose to remember that he is seeking to serve our family in this process. And I can keep that in the forefront.

Hebrews 3:13 tells us to encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "today". I love that! I will always be in "today." I will never be in "tomorrow" because by the time I reach it, it will be "today" again! Therefore, today is the day to encourage my husband, even if I feel tired or grumpy or stressed with all that needs to be done.

What can we encourage our husbands for? We can encourage him for his strengths. We can encourage him for the work that he does on behalf of our family. We can encourage him in his efforts, whether they end up in success or not.

But most of all, we can encourage him in who God is creating him to be. Yesterday, I talked about the gift of acceptance. I think that the gift of encouragement goes very well with this gift. As the Lord grows and matures our husbands, we can take notice and encourage him. I can speak into his life and let him know that I see the changes. And I can praise the Lord on his behalf for what He is doing.

Encouragement is not one of those one-time-only gifts. As was just mentioned in Hebrews 3:13, it is to be a daily thing. A little further on in Hebrews 10:25, it says to encourage all the more as we see the day of Christ approaching. Not only am I to encourage him once, but I am to do so as often as I can, more and more, until He comes or until He takes me home.

Encouragement can be spoken, but it can also be written. If you're at a loss for what to write on a Valentine's Day card, consider giving the gift of encouragement with your words. I know my husband cherishes those words, as he can read them over and over again. Never underestimate the power of encouragement to motivate him to keep pushing ahead.

When times are hard and challenges are bearing down on us, instead of turning inwards, let us turn outwards. Let us not look out for our own interests, but for the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).

Time to sign off. A big day awaits. With a big dose of encouragement.