Strengthen, Encourage, Comfort

“Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel” (Proverbs 20:15, NIV).

When Jesus taught, people were amazed at his teaching. John describes him as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NIV). They said that they really couldn’t find anyone else who taught with authority the way Jesus did.

As a result crowds gathered around Jesus, seeking his teaching. And when they heard what he had to say, many of them went away strengthened, encouraged and comforted.

Today, when we read Jesus’s words, when we gather around him and listen to what he teaches us in the Bible, the very same thing is likely to occur. I come burdened, carrying my baggage, with my head spinning and full of the disruptive, discouraging thoughts of life in a fallen world.

Then Jesus speaks to me through the words of the Bible, and his words lighten the burden on my heart. I am strengthened, encouraged, and comforted. The gospel extends to me the forgiveness of my sins. It assures me of the Spirit’s life-changing strength. It gives me solid hope — especially the hope of a future in heaven.

Now Jesus has passed onto us the authority to share the gospel with others. And there is no greater gift, no greater responsibility, no greater cause, than to clearly and accurately teach Jesus and his promises to others.

To desire to do this, Paul write to the Corinthians, is to desire the greatest gift of the Spirit. And it is to seek the ability to strengthen, encourage and comfort those around us.

Someone who desires these things is indeed “a rare jewel.”

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort… I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:1-3, 18-19, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Thursday, August 20, is 2 Chronicles 10:1 – 12:16, 1 Corinthians 14:1-19 and Proverbs 20:15-24.

Lord, help me to teach your gospel message accurately, helpfully and compellingly. I want those who are around me to be strengthened, encouraged and comforted by your gospel promises, and the love that caused you to make those promises.

Header image based on "Carmen Lucia Ruby" by Cliff, CC By 2.0