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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

The Gift of Encouragement

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.   
Ephesians 4:29

Holidays can be sad days for many, especially those who are lonely. Holidays can also be depressing for many reasons. We busy ourselves with so many activities that we become tired, confused, and feel as though we are walking through a maze.

I have a gift suggestion for you. It is inexpensive, and it doesn’t require any shopping. It is the gift of encouragement. You know people who are lonely, who are grief-stricken, or who are suffering. Why not take the time to encourage them—send a card with encouraging words, telephone them, take them to lunch. Just let them know you love them and are thinking of them.

Encouraging words from friends can help pull us through difficult times. A few years ago I was primary care giver for my mother-in-law who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. During that time, my father and our daughter died within a few months of each other. I felt that I could not go on.

Then, I went to see my friend, Gaye. She reminded me of God’s love for me. Her words helped me to understand that even though I was going through difficult time, God was standing with arms opened wide. He was there ready to comfort me and to give me strength to face the next months.

Other friends visited and provided comfort, love, and encouragement. Sometimes we tend to stay away when our friends are suffering because we just don’t know what to do or say. Don’t worry about that. God will give you the words. Just your presence or a hug can mean so much.

God wants to develop us into the kind of friend who can strengthen others. Read our Scripture for today again. We should do only what is helpful for building others up, whatever their need.
Some people are gifted as encouragers, but I believe God gives us all an ability to encourage others to grow emotionally and spiritually.

Are you an encourager? Let’s not allow “busyness” to keep us from reaching out to those who need a special lift at this time of the year.

Georgia Andrus

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