Did you know that God is an encourager? Did you know that He comes alongside us to help, encourage, comfort and cheer? And then He calls us to do for others what He’s done for us.
December 1-2, 2018
Pastor Joe Wittwer
Love Won Another
Be a Hero Maker: Encourage One Another
ILL: When my daughter Sally was about 5, she asked me to play with her. She said, “Let’s pretend I’m a ballerina. I’ll dance for you, and you clap and say, ‘Wonderful!’” My whole role in the game was to be her fan! “You’re wonderful!” And she is.
And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Sally’s 7 year old daughter, Malya, danced in the Nutcracker this week. Laina and I went to cheer Malya on. We’re still clapping and saying, “Wonderful!”
Everybody needs a fan. Everybody needs to be cheered on and encouraged. And if we all need encouragement, we all have to be willing to give it.
One of my favorite sayings is, “If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know he had help.” The turtle might think he’s the hero, but he had help! There was a hero-maker that helped him up on that fence post!
We are all turtles on fenceposts. Each of us has gotten where we are because there were other people who were willing to be hero-makers, who were willing to come alongside us to help and encourage us.
Today we continue our series, “Love Won Another.” It’s about the “One Another Commands” in the New Testament: love one another, serve one another, forgive one another, and so on—28 of them! Today: encourage one another. Be a hero-maker!
The command to encourage one another is repeated 5 times in the New Testament—those references are listed at the top of your outline. Here’s the first one:
2 Corinthians 13:11 (p. 1000) Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Encourage one another. The word “encourage” translates the Greek verb parakaleo, which literally means, “to call alongside.” (Kaleo is to call, para is beside.) This was one of the most versatile words in the Greek language. This verb is used 109 times in the New Testament and is translated 20 different ways in the NIV, including encourage, urge, beg, plead, comfort, appeal, invite and exhort. The noun, paraklesis, (encouragement or comfort) is used 29 times, and the noun parakletos (encourager, comforter, helper) is used five times—four of the Holy Spirit our comforter and helper, and once of Jesus, our advocate before the Father.
This word, parakaleo, to call alongside, to encourage one another, is a beautiful multi-faceted word that is also used of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. We’re going to look at five of the meanings—five ways God encourages us and calls us to encourage one another.
- We encourage by coming alongside to help.
The first and simplest meaning of parakaleo is to call alongside to help. “Come here; could you help me?”
ILL: When I did my mega-motorcycle ride around the perimeter of the US in 2014, I only had one accident. I was in Texas, riding along a remote stretch of the Rio Grande River. When I say remote, I had not seen a car in the last 40 miles. I saw a turnout for a beautiful picture; it was on a steep hill and I made a stupid mistake. Instead of parking the bike so it faced uphill, I pulled in at an angle, and when I put my right foot down so I could drop my kickstand, my right foot kept going and the bike—all 1000 pounds—tipped over. I know how to stand my bike back up, but because of the incline, I couldn’t get it all the way back up; it was upside down and gas was leaking out the overflow tube. I said a quick prayer: “Help!” And within a minute, two vehicles came by. I waved them down and the two guys came alongside me and together, we stood the bike up. I thanked them profusely. I was the turtle on a fencepost—those two guys got me there!
Encourage one another. Come alongside someone to help them.
God has done this with us. Each of the references on your outline is about the Holy Spirit being the Paraclete, the Helper. Look at
John 14:15-16 (p. 927) If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth.
First Jesus tells us to keep His commands. How are you doing on that? Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Freely you’ve received, freely give. Make disciples. Does anyone beside me need help? What’s the next thing Jesus says? The Father will give you another advocate to help you—a Paraclete—someone called alongside you to help. Many translations render this, “The Father will give you a Helper.” That’s the Holy Spirit. We are not left to do this on our own. God knows that we’re all turtles and we won’t get up this fencepost on our own. So He sent the Holy Spirit to come alongside and help us. The Spirit is the Helper, the Encourager.
One of the many ways the Spirit helps us is in prayer.
Romans 8:26–27 (p. 972) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Do you ever not know what to pray for? The Holy Spirit comes alongside us and helps us, praying for us in accordance with God’s will. I find that very encouraging! I’m not alone—I’ve got a Helper! The Spirit is helping me pray and is praying for me!
What God does for you, you can do for others. Who could you come alongside this week and encourage by helping, by saying, “Let me help you with that?” Write down the first name that comes to your mind.
- We encourage by coming alongside to comfort.
I told you this word parakaleo gets translated many ways. When it is used of the Holy Spirit in John 14-16, it is translated advocate, helper, counselor, and comforter. Look at:
John 14:25–27 (p. 927) All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
The King James Version of 1611 translates it “Comforter,” and that makes sense in this context where Jesus promises to give us His peace in the midst of trouble. What do you think of when I say comfort? We think of consoling someone who is hurt or grieving. You come alongside them, put an arm around them, let them cry on your shoulder. But the word “comfort” in 1611 meant something different. 400 years ago, in King James’ day, the word was more stout. The Latin root fortis meant “strong.” So to comfort was to strengthen someone, to fill someone with fresh strength and courage to face life and triumph. It wasn’t just “there, there,” but “here, here!” Look at:
2 Corinthians 1:3–7 (p. 993) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
That word “comfort”—that’s parakaleo—9 times in that passage! We come alongside someone to comfort. It’s sympathy, yes—but it’s more than sympathy. It in encouraging, in the sense that we give the person fresh courage. “You’re going through trouble—you can do it. God will help you, and I’m here to help too.” That’s the comfort we’re talking about.
ILL: During a practice session for the Green Bay Packers, coach Vince Lombardi singled out one big guard for his failure to “put out.” It was a hot, muggy day when the coach called his guard aside and leveled his awesome vocal guns on him, as only Lombardi could. “Son, you are a lousy football player. You’re not blocking, you’re not tackling, you’re not putting out. As a matter of fact, you’re done today, go take a shower.” The big guard dropped his head and walked into the dressing room. Forty-five minutes later, when Lombardi walked in, he saw the big guard sitting in front of his locker still wearing his uniform. His head was bowed and he was sobbing quietly.
Coach Lombardi walked over and put his arm around his shoulder. “Son,” he said, “I told you the truth. You are a lousy football player. You’re not blocking, you’re not tackling, you’re not putting out. However, in all fairness to you, I should have finished the story. Inside of you, son, there is a great football player and I’m going to stick by your side until the great football player inside of you has a chance to come out.” With these words, Jerry Kramer straightened up and felt better. He felt so much better that he went on to become one of the all-time greats in football, winning 3 NFL championships, and 2 Super Bowls. This year he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Jerry Kramer played high school ball in Sandpoint, and college ball at the University of Idaho. Aren’t you glad Coach finished the story?
That’s comfort. An arm around the shoulder, maybe with a kick in the behind, so that you motivate someone to gitty up!
What God does for you, you can do for others. Who do you know that is discouraged, depressed, hurting, wanting to give up, and you could come alongside this week to comfort, strengthen, and encourage? Write down the first name that comes to your mind.
- We encourage by coming alongside to champion.
By far the most common way parakaleo was used in Greek culture was of help given in a legal trial. The paraclete was someone who came alongside to defend you in court, to speak for you, to plead your case. It is clearly used this way in:
1 John 2:1 (p. 1054) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
We have an advocate with the Father. Jesus, the Righteous One, pleads our case. At the final judgment, I won’t stand before God alone to answer for my life. Jesus will stand with me; He will come alongside me to represent me before the Father. “This one is mine. He trusted me, and I’ve given him my righteousness.”
How great is this—to know that Jesus comes alongside to plead my case, to be my defense, my champion!
We can do this for one another—we can come alongside to champion one another. There’s a great example in the book of Acts—a guy named Barnabas. He first shows up in chapter 4 where we learn his name is Joseph—a fine name! But he is nicknamed Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement,” or just “Encourager!” The next time Barnabas shows up in the story is Acts 9, where Saul, the anti-Christian terrorist has met Jesus, and shows up in Jerusalem. No one believes that Saul is really converted; they think it’s a ruse to get inside the Christian community so he can wreck it. Enter Barnabas:
Acts 9:26–28 (p. 944) When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
What did Barnabas do? He was Saul’s advocate, Saul’s champion. He convinced the others that Saul could be trusted. What if Barnabas hadn’t done this? What might have happened to Saul?
Barnabas shows up next in Acts 11 as the emissary from the Jerusalem church to check out what God was doing in Antioch among the Gentiles. He saw what the Lord was doing, was glad and encouraged everyone to remain true to the Lord. Then he tracked down Saul (now Paul) in Tarsus and brought him back to Antioch to teach the new believers. Once again, he championed Paul.
Barnabas shows up next in Acts 13 as one of the prophets and teachers in Antioch, who was set aside along with Paul for a missionary journey. From Acts 13-15, he is Paul’s partner on the first missionary journey.
Barnabas shows up for the final time in Acts 15:36-41 as he and Paul prepare for their second missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark, who had deserted them early in the first journey; Paul refused and they parted ways. Barnabas and Mark sail off to Cyprus, Barnabas’ home country, and there he disappears from the story.
Three times we see Barnabas championing other people: twice with Paul and once with Mark. (Eventually, Paul changed his opinion of John Mark. In 2 Timothy 4:11, he tells Timothy, “Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry.”)
Barnabas didn’t need to be the hero of the story; he was content to be a hero maker of others. He was happy to help Paul get up on that fence post! He lived up to his name, Encourager, by championing others.
What God does for you, you can do for others. Who could you come alongside this week and encourage by being their advocate, their champion? Be a hero maker! Write down the first name that comes to your mind.
- We encourage by coming alongside to invite.
Remember, parakaleo literally means “to call alongside.” So one of the meanings is simply to invite. “Come with me.” We say all the time that inviting someone is a very encouraging thing. It says that you like someone and want them. It’s an honor—a value statement. “Come with me.”
The word is translated “invite” in each of the passages from Acts on your outline. For the sake of time, we’re going to put them on the screen.
Acts 8:31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Acts 13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath.
Acts 16:15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Acts 28:14 There we found some brothers and sisters who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.
Each time you saw “invited” that’s the word parakaleo—to call alongside, to encourage. People feel encouraged when they are invited, wanted, valued, included. So make the invitation. “Come with me.”
The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, is an inviter; so are we.
Revelation 22:17 (p. 1077) The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
The Spirit says “Come!” The Spirit is an inviter. And the bride—that’s us—says “Come!” We are inviters too. And everyone who hears the invitation says “Come!” It’s how people come to Jesus—they are invited. Be an inviter.
People want to be invited and included. Even if they don’t come, they feel valued and loved because you invited them. Don’t say no for someone else! Let them decide for themselves. Make the invite.
I’ve got one last point, but before we get to it, let’s do this. When you came in you got a blank gift tag, like this. Let’s take those out, and we’re going to write a few names on the tag—names of people we love who need Jesus, names of people we’re praying for, names of people we’re going to invite to come with us this Christmas. If you don’t have a pen, we’ve got Sharpies in cups at the end of the row, and extra tags—let’s pass those down. I’m going to give you a few moments to write down a name or two or three. Then would you hang your gift tag on the Christmas trees in the back.
We used gift tags this year because we want you to remember that every invitation is a gift—a gift of encouragement. “Come with me.” We’ve given you an invite card—make the invite. Give your friend the gift of being wanted and included.
- We encourage by coming alongside to cheer.
The word parakaleo is most often translated, “to encourage” or “to urge.” It was the word used for rallying men to battle, rousing people for a cause. Imagine a coach’s pre-game talk, or a general’s speech to the troops before heading into battle. It is putting courage in those who are faint-hearted. It is stirring people to action.
When Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Paraclete—our Helper and Encourager—this is one of the meanings. The Spirit is the one who gives us courage, who stirs us up and urges us on. And we are called to do this for one another. Each of the texts listed here are used this way. Look at:
Acts 11:23 (p. 946) News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Barnabas encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. It wasn’t easy to be a Christian—they were a tiny minority and faced stiff opposition. It was a battle! So Barnabas cheers them on, rallies them for the battle. “Stay true to the Lord!”
Acts 14:22 (950) (The apostles returned to all the churches they had started) strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Same thing here: Paul and Barnabas encouraged the new Christians to remain true to the faith, reminding them that it’s a battle. “We must go through many hardships.”
Life is hard. Following Jesus can be hard. We all need people who will come alongside us and cheer us on—rally us! “Let’s go!”
ILL: In 2002, Life Center was meeting on Nora Street and doing 5 weekend services. We had found this property and were deep into discussions about building here—and I was hesitating. It was a big leap, a lot of money, a lot of risk. I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle it. My friend Paul Miller bought a set of toy pistols in holsters and hung them on the credenza in my office with a note. The note said, “You’ve never been afraid before, don’t be now. Pull the trigger!” I laughed—and I was encouraged. Paul came alongside me to rally me, to give me fresh courage to face my challenge. And here we are.
On more verse.
Hebrews 10:24–25 (p. 1039) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Don’t give up on this—meeting together. Keep coming alongside each other and encouraging one another. Spur one another on! Each time we meet, we want to cheer you on, encourage you, rally you, spur you on! It may happen in the singing—as we speak to each other in song, maybe you find fresh courage.
ILL: Charles Durham in his book Temptation wrote:
“One Saturday afternoon I watched the broadcast of the world’s light-weight boxing championship match. The champ was a 31 year-old Scotsman and his challenger was a 25 year old from the United States who had never lost a pro fight. The fight was before a crowd of 20,000 in Glasgow, Scotland, and the champion had said before the fight that he would rather die than be beaten before his own people.
“It soon became clear that it would be a close fight. As I sat watching, I heard something unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was faint at first, but it seemed to be singing—singing at a boxing match! Gradually, it became louder; hundreds then thousands of male voices singing a strange Scottish melody. I could hardly believe it. They were singing encouragement for their champion. As he fought for his crown, but even more for the respect of the Scottish people, they sang to encourage him.”
I wonder what they sang. “Sock him in the head! Knock him on his keister!”
I read that story and I thought of us singing to God and to each other, encouraging each other. Every time we come together, we encourage one another by song, by word and by our presence.
What God does for you, you can do for others. Who do you know whose spirit is flagging, who needs someone to come alongside and rally them? Write down the first name you think of.