Life-Giving Encouragement - Introduction
by Sharon Betters
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son does not have life.
1 John 5:12
If the Life-Giving Encouragement devotional series sounds familiar, you were one of the first subscribers to Daily Treasure. Fear not, there are riches to be gained by delving back into the important call to life-giving vs. life-taking. You are in a different place in your life, as am I. God’s life-filled words jump out in different ways and you’ll hear plenty of His Word in this series.
Over twenty years ago I held my first book, Treasures of Encouragement, in my hands and realized that God was bringing beauty from the ashes of my life. Paul Tripp said, “God makes His invisible grace visible by sending people of grace to give grace to people who need grace.” After the fatal car accident of our son Mark and his friend Kelly, God sent people of grace to give grace to our family who desperately needed grace. Each person became a physical demonstration of God’s invisible grace.
I wrote Treasures of Encouragement as an equipping tool to help women offer that same grace to the people in their “villages”. Though I include lots of practical encouragement ideas, the core theme of the book is to understand that biblical encouragement flows from intimacy with Jesus and a growing understanding of our identity as His daughters.
Recently I read a book by Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt, Transformed: Life-Taker to Life-Giver. As I turned each page I recognized the life-giving power of biblical encouragement, a power that transforms us from life-takers to life-givers. They remind readers that “A life that is integrated and whole, with no division between faith and life, puts Jesus on display.” When Jesus comes into our hearts as Savior, His love can transform us into people who intentionally search for ways to reflect Him as a means of offering help and hope to hurting people.
One dictionary defines encourage as “to give courage, spirit, or hope, to stimulate”. That sounds like life-giving to me.
In their book, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, Ligon Duncan, and Susan Hunt write:
“The name “Life-Giver” is derived from the meaning of the word Eve. A
Life-Giver/Helper: defends; sees and cares for the oppressed; supports others; shields and protects; delivers from distress; rescues the poor, weak, and needy; comforts. A Life-Taker/Hinderer: attacks; is indifferent, unconcerned for the oppressed; weakens, leaves unprotected and defenseless; causes distress; ignores the poor, weak and needy; avoids and causes discomfort.”
I see the fingerprints of encouragement all over the actions of a life-giver. It appears redundant to call this devotional series Life-Giving Encouragement, but the redundancy is intentional. I am hoping readers will recognize that biblical encouragement has the potential for not just making someone feel better, but ultimately the power to help turn a person’s heart toward Jesus, the Source of Life. With Jesus as our Life Source, we begin to see a bigger purpose for encouragement. We recognize that while our actions might make life easier for another, the ultimate purpose is eternal – it is to help turn their hearts toward Jesus. The people who encouraged us in our grief journey after the fatal car accident of our son and his friend, made visible the grace of God in a way that helped us believe that God is sovereign and we could trust Him. We thought we were dying, but God used their encouragement to fan the sparks of life in the ashes of death into purposeful living.
This Life-Giving Encouragement devotional series will help remind us of the Source of all of life and how embracing that Source compels us to become channels of God’s grace. What a privilege to partner with the Lord in displaying His grace through our interactions with others.
At the beginning of each week, I offer some Life-giving Encouragement suggestions, including references to chapters in the book Treasures of Encouragement. If you don’t have a copy, you can order it online or through any bookstore. Though reading it is not a requirement for this devotional. My goal is that the devotional will act as “spiritual snack food” that helps focus your day until you can dig deeper into the Scriptures. I’m delighted to welcome Jane Anne Wilson as a guest writer for the first week of the Life-Giving Encouragement devotional. Anyone who has the privilege of having Jane Anne as a friend knows that she not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Each day, as you read these messages, ask the Lord to show you one practical way you can display His life-giving heart.
Treasured by Him,
To expand your understanding of what it means to be a life-giver vs. a life-taker, read Transformed: Life-Taker to Life-Giver by Karen Hodge and Susan Hunt, available online or in bookstores.
Read Hebrews 11:19-24