Building up others means to edify, encourage, and uplift them so they will be strengthened inwardly to persevere despite difficulty. Encouragement seeks to infuse difficulty with meaning. Without that sense of meaning, hope and the will to go on fades. In John 16:33 Jesus told His followers “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows,” so we are to encourage and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
While purposing to build up others is essential, sincere and effective encouragement is founded on particular knowledge, truths, and beliefs such as the following.
Realizing that one reason the Lord saved me was to be His ambassador to a hurting world by being a Spirit-filled encourager (2 Corinthians 5:20).
I must realize I have been blessed with all the richness that being in Christ brings in order to be a blessing and encourager to others. I need to commit to being an encourager because it is what God desires and people need.
Good knowledge of God’s Word. Believers are to build each other up by speaking appropriate truth from God’s Word.
For example, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11 Paul was writing to persecuted believers seeking to encourage them by reminding them of the truth of the Lord’s return. Persecuted believers needed to hear this truth so they would have hope and courage to stay faithful. Knowing God’s Word gives me encouraging truth to share.
Being encouraged from belonging to Christ.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ…then…value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:1–3 NIV). Belonging to Christ is the truth that overcomes every defeat and discouragement. In Him I share the victory won at the cross. That victory overcame my enemies: the world, the flesh, the Devil, and death. This is the ultimate encouraging truth. I must learn to encourage and strengthen myself in the Lord my God like David (1 Samuel 30:6). I do this by encouraging myself regarding my union with Christ and all that is mine because of it. I am more than a conqueror through Him.
Observing that others need upbuilding.
I can’t be self-absorbed and looking out only for my own interests. I need to be others-oriented, listening more than talking and observing what is going on with others. I need to be a learner of others’ accomplishments. Everyone needs praise and recognition for their accomplishments. But few people make the need known quite as clearly as the little boy who said to his father, “Let’s play darts. I’ll throw and you say ‘Wonderful!’”
Accepting and valuing my God-created uniqueness and my identity in Christ.
This frees me from focusing on my insecurities to focusing on others’ needs for encouragement. Once I accept and value who I am I can accept and value others for who they are as unique people of worth and dignity as God’s image-bearers. Every believer has worth as a blood-bought child of God. Discouraged people have, in a sense, lost themselves and need to be built up by reminding them they are unique and God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10).
Having the ability to see past others’ short-comings and letting go of their failures.
Building someone up does not mean I condone their short-comings and failures. I just can’t let their past failures deter me from encouraging them now. God doesn’t work like that so neither should I. I shouldn’t wait for, or expect perfection in others before encouraging or praising them because then I wouldn’t encourage anyone.
Allowing my body language to express that I accept and value that person.
I have never seen a true encourager with a sour expression or who wasn’t ready with a warm hug where appropriate. My whole demeanour needs to reinforce my words of building up.
Refusal to gossip or speak evil of others.
Gossip and slander tear others down and are the exact opposite of building up. They are totally inconsistent with being a true encourager. I must replace tearing down others in my thinking and speech with building them up to others.
Acknowledging that the fears that weigh the discouraged down are a real response to situations but they are not truth.
A credible and courageous encourager empathizes and acknowledges someone’s fears but chooses to step in and lead them away from those fears and discouragement by building them up with truth.
Realizing that God is always at work in lives and situations even if I can’t see it.
This is a foundational truth to believe in order to be able to build others up. God is at work in all things (Romans 8:28). Knowing and sharing this is a source of great hope.
Seeking to grow in and develop these perspectives will help fulfil purposeful building others up.