“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Paul ends his discourse on the end times with this verse. There was much confusion and angst among the Thessalonians as to what happens when they die, when will Christ come again, and what happens then. Paul addresses those concerns and then tells them to encourage and build one another up.
When confusion, anxiety, and worry invade our hearts due to things happening around us, God’s Word is there to address all of these things. But sometimes (okay, most times) we also need one another. We need one another for encouragement, for building up.
That word, “encouragement,” literally means to come alongside. Come along to comfort, exhort, encourage, and strengthen. And the words “build up” literally mean to build a house, to restore by building. Build upon the faith and knowledge you have. The action of building denotes continued growth, not staying where you are, but going up, up, up.
Neither one of these can be done by one person alone, or at least they can’t be done well. When we come alongside and encourage one another, we can’t help but also build up one another, to strengthen one another’s faith, to grow one another to a deeper knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That is the ultimate goal of encouraging one another.
My favorite part of this verse is the very end: “just as you are doing.” As I’ve pondered this verse in the past few weeks, I’ve noticed many of you encouraging and building up one another. I’ve heard expressions of encouragement from God’s Word and prayers offered as a friend has shared a struggle, a need, a worry. Two things have to happen for us to be able to encourage one another. First, we all need to be in God’s Word. We have nothing to share if we’re not listening to Him. Second, we need to speak up when we are struggling. We can’t encourage one another if we don’t know of the need.
There will always be times of confusion, anxiety, and worry. Share them with one another. Be in God’s Word so you can be the one to encourage the one who is in the battle. Let’s truly become the “living stones” Peter speaks of and build up one another so that we all become a dwelling place for God.