"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)
Even great people need encouragement. Dr Chuck Swindoll tells of a TV documentary when Dr Daniel Boorstin, the librarian of Congress, brought out a little blue box containing the contents of President Lincoln's pockets on the night he was assassinated. Among the ordinary items were some worn newspaper clippings.
The clippings told of some of Lincoln's great deeds. One of them reported a speech by John Bright which said that Lincoln was one of the greatest men of all times. In 1865, millions shared a contrary opinion. Lincoln's critics were fierce and many; his was an agony that reflected the suffering and turmoil of his country.
There is something touchingly pathetic in the picture of this great leader's sitting alone under a candlelight and seeking self-assurance from the comfort of a newspaper clipping.
Yet even when his critics were hanging him in effigy, Abraham Lincoln found somebody who believed in him and he put the reminder in his pocket to read and be encouraged when nobody was looking.
Is there somebody that you can encourage today? There is tremendous power in words of encouragement. Power to motivate and transform and shape the future. Never underestimate the guidance you give by the words you speak or do not speak. Jesus spoke to a woman at a well, and her life and the lives of her neighbours experienced a miraculous change. Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 souls came to salvation through faith.
Is there somebody you need to encourage today? Maybe you need to write that long-overdue letter! Write it to your child who is now grown up. Or to a parent that sacrificed so much for you. Write it to that pastor that faithfully teaches you each week. Write it to that fellow employee who has been doing the same menial job since the start of the millenium. Don't wait.
Put your arms around your son or daughter the next chance you get. No matter what ages they are. Look into their faces and tell them what they mean to you. When they bury you someday, those will be the words they will remember. They will be imbedded in their minds and they will never forget them.