Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Team USA is doing a great job at the London Olympic Games. Athletes from our country are shattering world records, having earned 30 medals as of this writing.
This past week, we watched gymnast Jordyn Weiber lose her expected spot to compete individually for a medal, only to return a couple of days later as a strong contributing team member and receive gold.
Swimmer Michael Phelps’ story was similar. His earlier loss in the 400-meter individual race to teammate Ryan Lochte was soon forgotten as he earned his 19th medal—and his place in history as the most decorated Olympian—swimming as a member of the USA team during the 4x200-meter relay. In interviews following the win, Phelps credited his teammates for giving him a lead to achieve this incredible feat.
While seventy-five percent of the Olympic events are individual races, even the athletes who compete in individual sports don’t go it alone. Everyone has a team—and the team is important—as we’ve witnessed this week.
So I’d like to ask you today, “Who’s on your team?”
Several weeks ago I spoke to a coach and manager of marathon runners, and he told me that his top three runners run as a team. They each win different events; one is best at the full marathon, another at a half marathon and another at the 10k, but they train together and run each of these together in order to encourage, challenge, and help one another.
That’s what teammates do, and in the church our team is both our church and the small groups in which we participate with fellow Christians. Together we achieve more.
Today, let’s look at what it means to Encourage One Another. In my next posts, we’ll discuss Challenging and Spurring One Another On and Bearing One Another’s Burdens.
Encourage One Another
Paul notes in I Thessalonians 5:11, Encourage one another and build each other up. The Greek word here for “encourage” is paraclete – a word some of you may recognize; Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the “Paraclete.” It is usually translated as "Comforter" in that context, but it literally means one who is called to walk alongside you. In legal terms it meant an advocate for one on trial.
Paul is, in essence, saying, “You are to do for each other what the Holy Spirit seeks to do in us—be comforter and encouragers for one another.” You are to advocate for one another, console one another, and encourage one another.
We all need a paraclete at times—someone to come along side us to urge us on, to help us believe in ourselves, and to be more than we would otherwise be.
When you are most discouraged, who is cheering you on, and helping you to not give up? Who are the people who say, “You can do this! Let us run alongside with you!” The thing is, you have to cultivate such relationships; they don’t just happen. You have to be that kind of person for others and they must be that for you.
I’ll ask again, who’s on your team, and whose team are you on?
You may be interested in listening to my current sermon series, The Games: Faster, Higher, Stronger.
photo credit: MorgueFile