If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. — Romans 12:8 NLT
The Apostle Paul warned the members of the church at Rome and, by extension, all members of the church at large not to “think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3). He goes on to say that part of honestly evaluating ourselves is to discern which of the special gifts of the Holy Spirit we have been given. We should specialize in the gifts we have actually been given and not proudly think we can specialize in every area.
Paul then goes on to list a number of specific gifts of the Holy Spirit such as prophecy, serving, teaching, etc. (Romans 12:6-8). The list is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every gift. It is just a list of examples. Further, the list is not meant to suggest that each Christian has only one gift on the list. Any number of gifts and combination of gifts is possible. Further yet, the list is not meant to suggest that members should never operate in gift areas outside of any special areas of gifting they have. It is merely meant to be a list of gifts that members specialize in.
One of the specific gifts on Paul’s list is the gift mentioned in our verse for today ? the gift of encouragement. No doubt every Christian should be encouraging on occasion, but some members of the church specialize in encouragement. It is something that they have been gifted to do very well. The word refers to someone who specializes in urging, exhorting, and inspiring other members to continue in the faith, grow in the faith, and take up whatever special gifting they have been given.
Interestingly enough, Paul’s list of gift examples is actually a manifestation of the gift of encouragement. He does not merely list the examples. Rather, he encourages those who have the gifts listed to operate in them. Hence, our verse for today says that encouragers should “be encouraging.” They should do what they have been gifted to do. They should operate in the area of encouragement for the benefit of the church.
The gift of encouragement is an important gift. Encouragers lift other members of the church up from despair, they build other members up, and they inspire them to operate in their gift areas and launch their ministries.