Encouragement – Calling Someone To Your Side

At Bible Study in my church, we have been looking at ‘The Character of the Christian’. On the most recent evening, we were talking about ‘Personal Relationships’. We read different passages, one of which was Titus 2:2-8:

2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

In this passage, Paul gives Titus guidelines on how to deal with the different groups of new believers he would be discipling. As we read through, I was a little irked to see that for young men, all that was written was ‘young men should be encouraged to have self-control’. What?! That’s all? Really?

I could not take it and so I expressed my concern and the Elders present, patiently listened to me and one said ‘encouragement does not only mean talking to someone’. Another Elder nodded in agreement and said ‘Yes. encouragement has to do with more involvement than you think’. And I was like, “hmm I never thought about it that way before.”

Now as it is with so many other words in this world, we have watered down the true meaning of encouragement. I decided to look into it, and I like how Jenn Arman put it:

“When the Bible talks about encouragement, it usually means that one is calling someone to their side in order to teach, comfort, strengthen or push them to act in a certain way. There are a few other words in the Bible that have similar meaning, such as exhort, warn or admonish, but they are mostly used in Paul’s letters. People who encourage others say with love what a person needs to hear, when they need to hear it–even if it isn’t what the person wants to hear.”


It seems to me that we are inclined to see encouragement as saying with love, what a person wants to hear and have completely discarded everything else.

Allow me to draw your attention to what I consider to be the first and most important part of this; ‘it usually means that one is calling someone to their side in order to teach, comfort, strengthen or push them to act in a certain way’.

Calling Someone To Your Side

It’s not just saying “I know things are hard but try”. No. It is actually working through life with someone and through those experiences together, showing him and exemplifying (another thing Titus was asked to do) how he should behave.

This morning, my friend was talking about how rampant suicide has become in Nigeria. During our conversation we agreed that sometimes all it takes is taking time out to say hello to someone, or check in on them. But brethren, we can do so much more.

One of my biggest disappointments coming back home was realizing that we are not really who we claim to be. During my time in America, I would tell my friends about the true community we Africans have and how “we are collectivistic. Everybody has everybody’s back. We hold each other down!” But that is not true. At least not anymore.

These days we tend to mock people’s suffering. Our inability to understand something never gives us the right to disrespect anyone. It’s okay if you have never experienced depression or anxiety. Lucky you, but your sister might be depressed and contemplating suicide. However, because of your attitude and insensitivity, she’d rather guzzle down on some sniper than have to bear your ignorance and judgement.

When I shared this post with my brother, he was telling me about how he has gradually realized that we Africans pride ourselves on having a strong community and yet this is not the case in the way we live. He said he has come to learn that the only hope for genuine ‘true community’ is where Jesus lives among his people – the Church. Where saved sinners rooted in the love of Jesus are doing life together and consistently working out how to love each other like He does.  

Now more than ever with Jesus as our perfect example, we need to relearn how to be empathetic. How to genuinely care for one another. It’s not just telling someone, “life will get better or it will be okay.” The truth is sometimes life does not get better in the sense that conditions improve. Some people have a couple of months to live and they know the end is coming.

The right thing to do is to be there for the person through it all. Be present. If you can teach during that time, do it. If you can comfort during that time, go right ahead. More than anything, point those who need encouragement in your life, to Jesus. Make sure their hopes are anchored in His fullness rather than the improvement of their situation. It is only in Him they will find strength. Encourage the right way.

There must be at least one person that may have crossed your mind while reading this. Who will you call to your side today?

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