“If you have any word of encouragement for the people, tell it.”—ACTS 13:15.
1, 2. Why is it important to encourage others?
CRISTINA, who is 18 years old, says: “My parents hardly ever encourage me, but they criticize me a lot. And their words can be so hurtful. They say that I’m immature, that I’ll never learn, and that I’m fat. So I cry often and prefer not to talk to them. I feel that I’m worthless.” (See endnote.) Life can be so difficult when others do not encourage us!
2 On the other hand, think of how much we can help others when we encourage them. Rubén says: “I have fought feelings of worthlessness for many years. But one time, I was preaching with an elder who realized that I was having a bad day. He listened with sympathy as I expressed my feelings. Then he reminded me of the good I was accomplishing. He also reminded me of Jesus’ words—that each of us is worth more than many sparrows. I often recall that scripture, and it still touches my heart. The elder’s words made a huge difference.”—Matthew 10:31.
3. (a) What did the apostle Paul say about encouraging others? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
3 The Bible says that we need to encourage one another regularly. The apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians: “Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God; but keep on encouraging one another each day.” Paul explained why: “So that none of you should become hardened by the deceptive power of sin.” (Hebrews 3:12, 13) Think about how good you felt when someone encouraged you. So, what reasons do we have to encourage our brothers? What can we learn from the way Jehovah, Jesus, and Paul encouraged others? And what are some ways we can encourage one another? Let us discuss these questions.
WE ALL NEED TO BE ENCOURAGED
4. Who need to be encouraged? Why do most people today not encourage others?
4 All of us need to be encouraged. And there is a special need for parents to encourage their children. A teacher named Timothy Evans explains that children “need encouragement like plants need water.” He adds: “With encouragement, a child feels worthwhile and appreciated.” But because we are living in “the last days,” many people are selfish and have little “natural affection” for one another. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Some parents do not encourage their children because their own parents never encouraged them. Adults too need to be encouraged, but often this does not happen. For example, many complain that they are never commended for what they do at work.
Commend others for something they did well
5. How can we encourage others?
5 We can encourage others by commending them for something they did well. We can also encourage others by telling them that they have good qualities and by comforting them when they are sad or discouraged. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Because we are often with our brothers and sisters, we have many opportunities to say something encouraging. (Read Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.) So ask yourself: ‘Do I let others know why I value and love them? And do I do this whenever I can?’ Think about what the Bible says: “A word spoken at the right time—how good it is!”—Proverbs 15:23.
6. Why does Satan want to discourage God’s people? Give an example of how he tried to do this.
6 Proverbs 24:10 says: “If you become discouraged in the day of distress, your strength will be meager.” Satan knows that if he discourages us, he can weaken our relationship with Jehovah. He tried to discourage Job by causing him to suffer terribly. But Satan’s cruel plan failed. Job stayed loyal to Jehovah. (Job 2:3; 22:3; 27:5) We too can fight Satan and make sure that he does not succeed. If we continue encouraging our family members and our brothers and sisters in the congregation, we can help one another to be happy and to stay close to Jehovah.
EXAMPLES WE CAN IMITATE
7, 8. (a) How has Jehovah encouraged people? (b) How can parents follow Jehovah’s example? (See opening picture.)
7 Jehovah encourages people. The psalmist wrote: “Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are discouraged.” (Psalm 34:18, footnote) When the prophet Jeremiah was afraid and discouraged, Jehovah promised to help him. (Jeremiah 1:6-10) Jehovah sent an angel to strengthen the elderly prophet Daniel. That angel called Daniel “very precious.” (Daniel 10:8, 11, 18, 19) Could you encourage your brothers and sisters in a similar way, including pioneers as well as older ones who cannot do as much as they used to?
Parents, help your children endure trials at school
8 Even though Jehovah and Jesus had been together for many years, Jehovah knew that he still needed to encourage his Son when Jesus was on earth. Jesus heard his Father speak from heaven when he began his preaching work and during his last year on earth. On two occasions, Jehovah said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) Jesus surely felt very encouraged when he heard his Father say that he loved him and was proud of him. Later, on the night before Jesus died, he was feeling very anxious. Jehovah encouraged him by sending an angel to strengthen and comfort him. (Luke 22:43) Parents, you can imitate Jehovah’s example by regularly encouraging your children. Commend them when they do something well. And when they have trials at school, do all you can to strengthen them and help them to endure.
9. What can we learn from the way Jesus treated his apostles?
9 Jesus also set a good example for us to imitate. On the night before he died, Jesus washed his apostles’ feet and told them how important it is to be humble. But they were proud and argued about who was the greatest, and Peter boasted that he would never leave Jesus. (Luke 22:24, 33, 34) Jesus, however, did not focus on their mistakes. Instead, he commended them for staying loyal to him. He promised them that they would do greater things than he did, and he assured them that Jehovah loved them. (Luke 22:28; John 14:12; 16:27) We can ask ourselves, ‘Do I imitate Jesus’ example and commend others for their good qualities instead of focusing on their mistakes?’
10, 11. How did Paul encourage his brothers, and what was he willing to do?
10 The apostle Paul often said good things about his brothers. He had spent many years traveling with some of them and had come to know them very well, but he did not write about their mistakes. Instead, he praised them. For example, Paul said that Timothy was his “beloved and faithful child in the Lord” and that he was confident that Timothy would care for the needs of others. (1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19, 20) Paul told the Christians in Corinth that Titus was his “companion and a fellow worker for your interests.” (2 Corinthians 8:23) Surely Timothy and Titus were encouraged when they learned what Paul thought of them!
11 Paul and his companion Barnabas risked their lives to encourage their brothers. For example, they both knew that many people in the city of Lystra wanted to kill them. Still, they went back there to encourage the new disciples and to help them stay faithful to Jehovah. (Acts 14:19-22) Later, in Ephesus, Paul was in danger from an angry crowd, but he stayed long enough to encourage his brothers. Acts 20:1, 2 says: “Paul sent for the disciples, and after he had encouraged them and said farewell, he began his journey to Macedonia. After going through those regions and giving many words of encouragement to the ones there, he arrived in Greece.”
ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER
12. Why is it good for us to go to the meetings?
12 Jehovah wants the best for us. That is why he tells us to meet together regularly. At our meetings, we learn about him and encourage one another. (1 Corinthians 14:31; read Hebrews 10:24, 25.) Cristina, who was mentioned at the beginning of this article, says: “What I like most about the meetings is the love and encouragement I receive there. Sometimes I feel depressed when I arrive at the Kingdom Hall. But then sisters approach me, give me a hug, and say I look pretty. They tell me that they love me and are pleased to see my spiritual progress. Their encouragement makes me feel so much better!” How important it is for each of us to encourage others!—Romans 1:11, 12.
13. Why do even those who have served Jehovah for a long time need to be encouraged?
13 Even those who have served Jehovah for a long time need to be encouraged. Think of Joshua. When the Israelites were about to go into the Promised Land, Jehovah chose Joshua to lead them. Yet, Jehovah told Moses to encourage him even though Joshua had served Jehovah for many years. Jehovah said: “Commission Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, because he is the one who will cross over before this people and he is the one who will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” (Deuteronomy 3:27, 28) Joshua needed to be encouraged, because later the nation would fight many battles and even lose at least one. (Joshua 7:1-9) Today, we can encourage elders and circuit overseers, who work hard to care for God’s people. (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13.) One circuit overseer said: “Sometimes the brothers give us a thank-you letter saying how much they enjoyed our visit. We keep these letters and read them when we are feeling low. They are a real source of encouragement.”
14. What examples show that it is good to commend others when we are giving them counsel?
14 On one occasion, the apostle Paul had to give the Corinthians counsel. When they applied that counsel, Paul commended them. (2 Corinthians 7:8-11) Surely, his words encouraged them to continue doing what was right. Today, elders and parents can follow Paul’s example. Andreas, who has two children, says: “Encouragement helps children to grow up spiritually and emotionally. You nail down counsel by giving encouragement. Even though our kids know what is right, doing the right thing becomes their way of life through our constant encouragement.”
WHAT CAN HELP YOU TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS?
15. What is one way we can encourage others?
15 Tell your brothers and sisters how much you value their efforts and their good qualities. (2 Chronicles 16:9; Job 1:8) If we do this, we imitate Jehovah and Jesus. They value everything we do for them, even if we cannot do as much as we would like to. (Read Luke 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:12.) For example, we know that it takes a lot of effort for our dear older ones to come to the meetings and go out in the ministry regularly. Do we encourage them and commend them for all they do?
16. When can we encourage others?
16 Encourage others as often as possible. Whenever you notice something that a person did well, be sure to commend him. When Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch in Pisidia, the leaders of the synagogue there told them: “Men, brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, tell it.” Paul used that opportunity to encourage the people. (Acts 13:13-16, 42-44) When we encourage others, people will likely encourage us too.—Luke 6:38.
17. What is the best way to commend others?
17 Be specific. When Jesus commended the Christians in Thyatira, he was specific and explained what they had done well. (Read Revelation 2:18, 19.) How can we imitate him? Perhaps we could commend a single mother for the way she raises her children despite how difficult it is for her. Or if you are a parent, you could commend your children for their efforts to serve Jehovah. Explain to them what good things you have noticed. If we are specific when we encourage others, they will know that we mean what we say.
18, 19. How can we help one another to stay close to Jehovah?
18 Jehovah told Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua. Of course, Jehovah will not speak to us today and tell us to encourage a certain person. But he is pleased when he sees the efforts we make to encourage others. (Proverbs 19:17; Hebrews 12:12) For example, when a brother gives a public talk in our congregation, we can tell him what we enjoyed about his talk. Perhaps what he said helped us to cope with a problem or to understand a certain scripture. One sister wrote to a brother who had given a talk: “Although we spoke for only a few minutes, you saw my heavy heart, and you comforted and uplifted me. I want you to know that when you spoke in such a kind way, both from the platform and in person, I felt that it was a gift from Jehovah.”
19 We will be able to help one another stay close to Jehovah if we follow Paul’s counsel: “Keep encouraging one another and building one another up, just as you are in fact doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) If we “keep on encouraging one another each day,” we will make Jehovah very happy!
 (paragraph 1) Some names have been changed.