And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.
— Hebrews 10:24

My wife and I heard from various sources that a young missionary girl was depressed and discouraged. We were both shocked when we heard it because she always seemed so “up” about everything. She always flashed a big smile on her face; her voice was vivacious; and she seemed full of energy. When we were told that she was struggling with depression, we immediately made an appointment to talk to her and to see how we might encourage her in the Lord.

We asked this young woman, “Are you all right? Is there anything going on with you that we need to know about?”

She answered, “I’ll be all right. It’s just that I give, give, give and give every ounce of my strength to people, and it just seems like no one ever gives back to me. I’ve been pretty lonely, and that has made me feel very discouraged.”

*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]

bookmark2With some people, it is easy to know when they are discouraged. But when people are vivacious, life-giving, and effervescent like this young lady, it becomes more difficult to discern when they are struggling with discouraging thoughts. People like this project such confidence and victory that we tend to forget they have feelings just like everyone else. Unfortunately, we often wrongly assume they don’t need anything when, in fact, they are very needy.

This is why you should pray for sensitivity to recognize the needs of those around you. In fact, it would be a good idea to stop right now and ask the Lord to give you the sensitivity to recognize those times when the people in your life need an encouraging word.

This precious young lady was ministering to everyone around her, but she herself was feeling isolated and secluded. Because she was perceived to be so strong, no one dreamed that she was discouraged. As a result, no one reached out to her until discouragement was already a reality she struggled with in her life.

Everyone needs encouragement! That’s why the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “…consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24). The word “consider” is the Greek word katanoeo, a compound of the words kata and noeo. The word kata is a preposition that means down. It describes something that is moving downward and can also describe a dominating force. The second part of the word is the Greek word noeo, from the word nous, which refers to the mind. When these two words are linked together, it means to thoroughly consider something; to think something through from the top to the bottom; to think hard about something; or to deeply ponder a matter. In other words, the word katanoneo does not represent a momentary shallow thought. A person engaged in this type of thought process is focused and concentrated. His attention has been completely captured, and he is seriously contemplating the matter at hand.

So when God urges us to “consider one another,” He is saying we are to be so concerned about each other’s welfare that we take time to regularly and seriously contemplate how we might encourage one another. If we truly care about the people in our lives, we should notice when their countenance has changed, when they don’t seem as “up” as usual, or when they begin to skip church services. Because of our genuine care for others, we should make it our aim to think through from beginning to end the question of how we might become a greater source of blessing and strength for others.

The local church is designed by God to be a spiritual family where people sincerely love and are mindful of each other’s needs. We should not only know each other’s dream and desires, but we should pray often for those dreams to come to pass and check to see how things are progressing.

Church should be a place where everyone is committed to being a blessing to one another. If each member of a local church family took this approach, observing and contemplating each other’s needs this thoroughly, it would be very hard for discouragement to find its way into the family of God. In fact, a situation like the one described above with the young missionary girl would almost be unheard of! Instead, Christians would be able to perceive when someone was starting to sink and begin to lift that person back up to a place of strength!

Therefore, Hebrews 10:24 could be taken to mean:

“Carefully observe one another, contemplating each other’s situation and needs, diagnosing the other person’s situation, and contemplating how you can stir him or her to love and good deeds.”

We all like to be cared for and appreciated, but let’s not forget that there are others around us who need encouragement just as much as we do. We shouldn’t be led by our eyes only! Everyone who smiles isn’t always happy.

If you’ll be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and truly be concerned about the people who are close to you, God will show you when they need a special word to lift their spirits. Think how much it means to you when someone deliberately goes way out of his or her normal daily routine to let you know you are appreciated. Isn’t it powerful when someone does this for you? Well, just as you need people who will love you, be sensitive to your needs, and support you when you are struggling through challenges or feeling tired and worn out, the people you encounter in your daily life have those same exact needs.

It’s time to let the Holy Spirit use you to be a source of encouragement to others — and you can start by letting Him use you to be a blessing to someone today!

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, forgive me for being so self-centered that I forget to think about other people’s needs. I get so fixated on my own problems that I forget I am not the only person in the world who is struggling with a situation. Help me to take my eyes off myself and to look around me to see who needs a special word of encouragement. Holy Spirit, open my eyes and help me be sensitive in my spirit to recognize people who need a tender touch. So many times I’ve freely received help from others. Now I want to freely give what I have received.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I declare by faith that I am sensitive to the needs of others. God uses me to encourage people who are around me. As I become more Christ-like, I am less aware of me and more aware of those who are around me. Because God’s Spirit lives inside me, all the wonderful fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance — reside in me and flow through me to others. I am aware of others. I think of them; I ask about them; I pray for them; and I treat them with the greatest love, care, and attention.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

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Questions to Answer

1. Have you ever felt isolated and lonely and wished that someone would reach out to check on you? If yes, did anyone ever check on you, or did you feel abandoned in your time of need?

2. How long has it been since you deviated from your normal course of affairs to go check on someone else and let that person know you have been thinking about him or her?

3. What can you do today to specially communicate that you are concerned about someone else’s welfare? Write down several ideas, such as sending flowers, writing a note, calling someone on the telephone, etc.