So what, Stephen, what does this have to do with the Bible and Christian living? To begin answering that question, let us turn to Hebrews 3:12-15:
"Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.'"
Everyone needs encouragement. The best way to make friends is to be a friend (cf. Prov. 18:24), and the same is true with encouragement. If you encourage others, they will encourage you as well! Even the strongest among us needs to be exhorted regularly. Daily encouragement is the ideal. Drifting from the faith is possible (cf. I Cor. 10:12). Sin is deceptive, and the devil is busy trying to chip away at our morality and faith where he can.
I saw a poem early this year that ties in well with these thoughts. It's entitled: "One Phone Call Can."
One phone call can...
Cheer the sad,
Learn of a need,
Show your concern,
Lift the depressed,
Comfort the lonely,
Promote a good work,
Strengthen the weak,
Reassure the suffering, and
Encourage the downhearted.
Why not make at least one every day?
Dear friends, let me challenge you (as I challenge myself) to do just that--with a broadened scope! What I mean is, don't just limit yourself to being a daily encourager via the telephone. If you are willing, commit yourself to making a special effort of encouraging at least one person each day. Go out of your way to do this, and try to make it a habit (like popping that vitamin). Consider phone calls as one of the tools available to you. In some situations, however, perhaps writing a letter or sending a card would be more fitting (and the impact potentially longer lasting when such is kept and read again by the recipient in the future). Sometimes even a personal visit is best, when such is possible. If time is exceedingly short, an e-mail can be sent for the purpose of encouragement (though I would not recommend doing all of your encouraging via this means of communication due to its perception by many as impersonal).
Godly men and women will already be doing a lot of encouraging without making a planned, daily effort. But, there are advantages to going above and beyond what you currently are doing and setting aside a time each day strictly for the purpose of building up someone else. This will take work (time and effort), planning (deciding whom to reach out to), and discipline (to stick with it). But, habits that are deeply ingrained are hard to break, and this is a habit that I am planning to implement in my life starting today. I know that I can do more to encourage others, and I know that I should do more. There are Christians I need to be building up (beyond just my casual interactions with them), and there are non-Christians whom I know who need to be exhorted tenderly to come to the Lord! If you feel the same way, let me encourage you to commit yourself to a similar course of action. You won't regret it, and both you and the recipient of your encouragement will be better for it! One a day--starting today--you can do it!