“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”
Let me add, be an encourager. It has been said that everyone is either in the midst of the battle, just coming out of a battle, or about to enter the battle. At first glance, this is often not visible. A smile often masks deep feelings. The writer of the Proverbs put it this way, “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief.” (Proverbs 14:13 NASV)
God’s directive to Moses in Deuteronomy 3 is very interesting. The children of Israel had finished 40 years in the wilderness. They were about to enter the land of “milk and honey”. The “promised land”. Sounds good doesn’t it? But God knew that the real battle was just ahead. Amorites, Hittites and all of the other “ites” were waiting to steal, kill and destroy God’s promises to His children. In verse 28 God tells Moses to “charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.” (KJV) This “encourage” was not just a “pep talk”. The meaning of the word is to “fasten upon…strengthen to become even stronger…fortify”. I can imagine that this took quite some time. They probably had a few “counseling sessions” as Moses poured into Joshua’s heart, and spirit, the encouragement that it would take to persevere in the days ahead.
“Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”. We have all heard this admonition to remind us not to miss church. But why? Why do we assemble together? To “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” and “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NASV). Worship is important. Sermons are wonderful. But could it be possible, that a core reason to meet together is to encourage one another? Something far beyond the “How ya doing?” and “Good to see ya!” platitudes we usually give each other as we pass in the aisle.
Just like the children of Israel, we have an enemy who came to steal, kill and destroy our walk with Christ. Too often we try to fight this battle alone. Remember that the enemy is strong and powerful. Someone once said, “The strength of the wolf is the pack…and the strength of the pack is the wolf”. Sounds like Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another, day after day…lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
When reminding the church at Thessalonica of the sure return of the Lord, Paul ended with this exhortation, “Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another…” (5:11 NASV)
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. Encourage them. Fortify them. Pour words of strength and courage into their hearts and spirits. And one more thing – be encouraged yourself. You don’t walk alone. You always have an “audience of one”. He is with you and He has a “Barnabas the Encourager” on the way to encourage you…and to just maybe, help turn your life around.
Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who recently married Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.