They helped every one his neighbor; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.…
How much of mutuality there is in the teaching of the Bible! This is mutual encouragement, and applies to higher forms of service. The next verse reads, "But thou, Israel, art My servant." To be a carpenter who works on wood is merely to do something outward, but "thou art My servant" introduces us into the moral sphere of action. Now encouragement is not flattery. You are not to forget the great ethical basis on which all our life must rest. It is not right to flatter. It is right to encourage, because there are always circumstances in human life that tend to depress, and there are specific temperamental constitutions that need a great deal of gladdening from without, for some are not easily inspired. I believe in encouragement all through. Many young people never play the piano well because their parents have not encouraged them. Sometimes we fail to encourage our servants.
I. ENCOURAGEMENT MUST BE LIVED AS WELL AS SPOKEN. We are to give courage through the possession of it. It will not do for those who are to inspire others to whimper over their troubles! If the general is beaten the army is often defeated.
II. ENCOURAGEMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE NEAREST POINT. "Everyone said to his neighbour." The man next to me is to catch the influence. If I do not encourage him it is a poor compliment to encourage somebody in Spain or Jerusalem. It is of no use for me to write the foreign letter to my friend far away, if I do not encourage the charwoman who comes for a day's work. All these splendid heroics of distance are mere romance. Your neighbour nigh you often needs encouragement, and God has placed you there to give it.
III. ENCOURAGEMENT MUST NOT BE MERELY SEASONAL. Because you do not know when a man wants you! It is to be the atmosphere of duty; you are to live in it. We need encouragement when things are bright with us to stimulate us to make a right and thankful use of our mercies. We need encouragement in adversity, for patience needs sustaining in long hours of pain, in mysteries we cannot fathom, in paths where we see no turning. You can encourage someone best of all when you can say, Thus and thus it has been with me.
IV. ENCOURAGEMENT MUST NOT BE WITHDRAWN BY FREQUENT FAILURES. Do not say, I will give it up, it is a bad job. As the R.V. says, "Despairing of no man." What do you say? Am I to encourage the man who has broken so many vows? Yes. His next step may be on to the rock. Am I to be the one to bear upon my heart the responsibility of cheering those who never seem to cheer me? Yes. Your relation to me is not to affect my relation to you. Encourage the doubter, the erring, the deserter, as you would be encouraged yourself.
V. ENCOURAGEMENT MUST BE TRUE, BASED ON REASONS. No one can really encourage me unless he speaks on the ground of truth. For truth will not encourage me by hiding my symptoms and using soft, seductive words! Encourage one another, because the work in which we are engaged is the only immortal work of the ages, and to unite in Christian work is to lay hold of the "everlasting."
(W. M. Statham.)
Parallel VersesKJV: They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.