The Lord’s church is composed of both strong and weak members. Each one needs encouragement at times, but certainly the weaker brethren need a greater amount of special attention. Also, there are some members who are not necessarily weak, but who have special physical problems, causing them to need special attention. The apostle Paul taught that the responsibility of helping the weaker members rested upon the shoulders of those who were mature, full-grown Christians (Romans 15:1; Galatians 6:1-2). In the minds of some, this type of responsibility is the work of the elders, deacons, or preachers. Indeed it is, but the instruction is given to all Christians. Sometimes there is simply more work to be done than a limited number of men can accomplish. Which ones have you encouraged?
Some members are forsaking the assembling of the saints. This sign of weakness is obvious to any mature Christian. It takes no special training or skills to make a phone call, write a note, or drop by for a short visit to say, “I’ve missed you.” Would it be presumptuous to say almost all Christians could render service in this area?
Some members are attending without the support (perhaps with the hindrance) of their spouse. A mother rises early on Sunday morning to prepare breakfast and dress the children to get them to Bible class; and they leave home with the father still in bed. Sometimes the fathers have the same problem, leaving the mother at home. All recognize the special problems faced by such parents, admire their effort, and are encouraged by their faithful attendance under less than ideal circumstances. Are we not obliged to reciprocate some type of encouragement to these faithful parents?
Some members are presently experiencing family problems. There are parents who are struggling with a rebellious child. There are married couples who are experiencing serious problems, perhaps resulting from an immature spiritual life. There are adults who have aging parents who are sick or confined, and demand much of their time and attention. In many cases, an encouraging word may be all that can be offered. Who offers it?
Some members are facing problems associated with aging. The elderly and widows find it more and more difficult to do the basics, such as driving to services, shopping at the market, visiting with others, etc. Many live alone, without the encouragement or support of a faithful companion. Encouragement may be extended both verbally and actively.
This list could go on and on, but the initial question would remain the same, namely, “Whichones have you encouraged?” As the members of a congregation consider one another, the opportunities to serve are abundant. Christians may avoid the question for the present, but one day all will stand and give an answer. What will it be?
-by David Thomley