Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl looked at the bride and groom and then whispered to her mother, “Why is the girl dressed all in white?” The mother replied, ‘Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.’ The child thought about this for a moment then said, “So why is the boy dressed all in black?”
The Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is a tough topic. First off, the word “Trinity” doesn’t even appear in the Bible. You have to dig for the overall concept. We are told that God the Father sent Jesus the Son. We are told that Jesus is not only the Son but He IS God in human form. And then, there is the Holy Spirit.
After His death and resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving behind His Holy Spirit as God’s agent on Earth. Let me repeat that- the Holy Spirit is God’s agent on Earth. Over the next few weeks, we’ll dig deeper into exactly Who the Holy Spirit is. Each week, we’ll focus on one word- a name that describes the Holy Spirit. Last week, we talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit is the Author. Today, we consider the next word that describes the Holy Spirit– Encourager.
John 15:26-27 I will send a Helper to you from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth, who comes out from the Father. When the Friend comes to help you, he will give witness about me. You also must give witness. This is because you have been with me from the beginning.
Encouragement can have a profound effect. Jesus said, “I will send a Helper…” That word…”helper”…comes from the Greek word “parakletos”, which literally translates to “one called to the side of another”. Perhaps the English word that best captures it is “encourager”…The Paraclete.
The Paraclete…The Encourager… is another name for the Holy Spirit. When Jesus rose up to Heaven after the Resurrection, the disciples were stressed out because they were losing His steady, comforting presence. But He promised to leave One behind…The Spirit…to comfort, console, guide and encourage those who belong to Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent to comfort us, to bear witness to the fact that we belong to Him.
Do you ever feel, instead than ENcouraged…DIScouraged? Of course you do…you’re human. We ALL feel discouraged at times. But Jesus said that the One He sent, the Holy Spirit…The Paraclete…is the Spirit of truth. He doesn’t discourage God’s people. Never. He is the ENcourager, not the DIScourager. So if there’s a strong sense of discouragement in your life right now, it doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit. Then where does it come from? Well, if the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, then the devil is the father of lies. Satan is a liar and intentionally TRIES to discourage us by filling our heads…our lives…with lies. “You’re not good enough.” “Nobody loves you.” “You’re a failure.” And the worst, “God doesn’t love you.”
And when that happens, we tend to find ourselves in a state of spiritual confusion- “Is it the Holy Spirit talking to me…or is it the devil?” We get confused, lost, and we start listening to the enemy, who is busy slinging his daily serving of lies and discouragement. When we find ourselves there, we need to be intentional about renewing our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We need to make sure that we are open and receptive to the Encourager.
Being open to the encouragement of the Holy Spirit requires balance in our spiritual lives. Some Christians see their faith as predominately an intellectual exercise. They study, they read, they ponder, they soul-search- all in an effort to find the greatest heights of intellectual enlightenment possible. BUT…(you KNEW that was coming!)…if you never take your faith out of the purely intellectual, then you will NEVER make the journey from the head to the heart. And without that journey, all the “head knowledge” in the world isn’t enough.
Meanwhile, some Christians focus squarely on the experiential. They base their entire faith on experience. “I don’t really read the Bible. I don’t need to. I just pray to God and experience Him in nature. He’ll give me all I need.” And that’s true- God WILL give you everything you need. But part of the “resource packet” He’s made available to us is…His Word. And if you never take your faith out of the purely experiential, then you will NEVER make the journey from the heart to the head. And without that journey, all the “heart knowledge” in the world isn’t enough.
The Holy Spirit is the ultimate Encourager. The question is: are YOU and encourager…or a discourager? In the Old Testament, the discouragers said, “We can’t” and the entire Hebrew people wept all night…and then spent the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness. So MANY people stopped…simply because a FEW said, “We can’t!” Discouragers say, “We just can’t do it. It’ll never happen. I’m not going to have anything to do with it. We tried that…ONCE…47 years ago and it didn’t work! I tried that same approach and it didn’t work for me, so why is it working for THEM? It can’t be done, because that would bring about change and we ALL know…change is bad!” Discouragers sit on the sidelines, unwilling to get involved. Discouragers use their words to criticize and tear down.
Encouragers, on quite the other hand, see the possibilities. They see what God can do through other people. Encouragers have great vision. They have the ability to see what COULD be and not be limited by simply what IS. Encouragers support others by getting involved. Encouragers pray for others- building them up by lifting them up, helping them grow in their faith.
The Holy Spirit encourages us to represent Jesus…be His hands and feet, eyes and ears…to the world. He encourages us to continue the ministry He started 2,000 years ago. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is The Paraclete…The Encourager. He was sent to give us hope…and set an example. We are to be examples of the Holy Spirit’s encouragement, passing it on to others. And being an encourager can have a permanent impact on someone. Flatter me and I may or may not believe you. Criticize me and I may or may not like you. Ignore me and I may or may not forgive you. But encourage me…and I will absolutely never forget you.