I talked about one way to grow our Good Love into Better Love, and that was through gratitude, the ACTION of thanks (see here). I had been thinking that another way we can construct Better Love, is through encouragement. Today my daughter sent me an email that said in part (after she read previous posts on this blog), “you’re a good writer.” What an encouragement.
First, allow me to examine some words used for “encourage”, and their meanings. Well, encourage has two parts – “en”, to put into, and “courage”, to be brave, strong, and confident. So “encourage” is to put courage into, to build courage into. This is important in relationships. Just as ingratitude ruins relationships, so discouragement can destroy a relationship. Encouragement builds up, puts wind in your sails, gives hope. But if your words of criticism outweigh those of encouragement, you not only annoy or frustrate the other person, you tear down and weaken the person, and weaken your relationship with that person.
We saw that the Bible is the best source for a definition of Best Love, and commands us to love one another (see here). But the Bible also commands us to encourage one another. Heb. 3:13 says we are to encourage one another daily. And the Spanish side of my Bible has “animense unos a otros”. Animar carries the meaning, to animate, to give life to, and used reflexively here, means to pluck up courage, to liven up, to cheer up. Just as “love” should be viewed as an action verb, and gratitude requires action, to encourage not only requires action on your part, but promotes forward movement in the other person and your relationship. Yes, encouragement puts the wind in the other person’s sails and moves them forward with hope.
Then in I Thes 5:11, we are told, Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now the Greek word used for “encourage” is parakaleo, which means to call to one’s side, to exhort, comfort, instruct, as well as encourage. This idea of calling alongside gives me an image of teamwork and a partnership. And isn’t this what we want with our relationships? Don’t we want to put wind in each other’s sails, move forward as a team? We already discussed that we don’t just sit still in our relationships, we are either moving forward together, or the relationship is declining.
But we not only need to encourage one another, we need to encourage ourselves. And how do we do that? Well, for one we need to try to maintain a positive attitude, which is a subject for more that one blog post. Then we need to move forward from our mistakes. It can be so easy to beat ourselves up over a mistake, dwell on the past. But a favorite passage a teen girl shared several years ago, is Phil. 3:13b, But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What will you do? Maybe you will go back to reading emails, to browsing the web. But just maybe, you will first determine to take action, to encourage yourself, to encourage others, and to make some Good Love into Better Love. My desire is that you will provide some wind, of hope, of cheer, to fill some sails.