The Power of Encouragement
by Impact Church
2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2:2 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, 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 2:4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 2:5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Colossians 2:1-5
There may be no more under-rated and difficult experience in life than being discouraged. It is one of the most perplexing feelings because it appears to be in direct opposition to the life a Christian would experience in this world. There might be several causes for that experience including having great expectations that go unmet, or trusting in someone who doesn’t do what you believed they would, failing to do what you should or doing what you shouldn’t, or simply being unhappy with your life circumstance. The source of our discouragement is most often rooted in our selfishness, when we don’t get what we believe we should. Or, it might be caused by our general assessment that we do not trust or accept what God has prepared for us. Essentially, when we are ungrateful we will struggle with discouragement. However, please consider this the counsel this passage offers in light of our difficult moments.
Difficult times are part of the Christian life. Paul wrote to the Colossian church that he wanted them to know that he had a great struggle on their behalf and for those Christians in Laodicea and others “who have not seen me face to face”. It is important to realize that being a Christian does not mean that we are exempt from difficult moments. Paul also said, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We will have troubles in this world but they are temporal and serve a greater purpose. Paul wanted them to know that he also had hard times. One of the leading causes of discouragement is a false belief that you are the only one struggling. You are not alone.
Being with other believers is critical for your life. Long before telegraph, telephone, television, emailing, and texting, the world wrote letters to each other. Ironically, this passage shows the same thing that is missing from our experience, and no level of digital communication will make it better: we need to physically see each other to feel the full assurance of the people who love us and who we love. Paul had written letters to churches and they were inspired by the Living God, but his physical presence remained the most dominant assurance of his love for them. For us to avoid the painful experience of discouragement, it is important for us to be physically present with other believers.
Encouragement is similar to the presence of God. The word for “encouragement” here is the same word and idea of having someone who is called alongside of you in the court to represent and support you. This is the exact language of Jesus in John’s Gospel as He describes the coming of and the role of the Holy Spirit. It is manifested in the early church by Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. No one calls him “Joseph” because that name didn’t denote what he did. Everyone called him “Barnabas”, which meant “son of encouragement”. Each of us needs a Barnabas to be with us through our difficult days. And we need to commit to being a Barnabas for others in their difficult days. Never underestimate the spiritual power of Christian encouragement.
Being together allows Love to be real and forms deep bonds with others. God wrote this truth into our very constitution: “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). We are created for companionship and community. Being disconnected from someone or from a fellowship is one of the most painful experiences. The choir leader wrote about the panting deer in Psalm 42. One of the leading causes of his spiritual thirst and anguish was his separation and exile from his people and worshipping with them. In the fourth verse he wrote: “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” He led them in worship and now, he’s absent from them. A Christian fellowship is an imperfect place but it is a soothing place for those who are cut adrift and absent. How many people have had their life refreshed by a single meeting with others who love Jesus and share His love for them?
Christian fellowship reveals the deepest truths of Jesus Christ. More powerful than reading theological textbooks or attending seminary, a church that encourages the hearts of the saints and whose hearts are knitted together will ‘reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ”. An encouraging Christian fellowship is stronger than a philosophical argument in demonstrating the person of Jesus Christ, “in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
If you are at a place of feeling discouraged, do not continue to go it alone. Come home! Impact Church invites you to join us and share your discouraged heart. We will welcome you and provide you with authentic Christian fellowship, biblical counsel, and renew your hope. God, our loving Father, has not abandoned you. He has given His Son to die for you and made it possible for you to know His love by faith alone. Will you trust Him for your eternal life? Come to Jesus. Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. If you believe Him for eternal life, will you not also trust His loving care for your daily life? He loves His children. Come be a part of His family. Be encouraged!