Valuable Insights 8 Be an antidote for hard hearts!
Encouragement is very important and should be received every day. The reason being, it is an antidote for a hard heart.
Dictionary definition for the word “antidote”: a remedy to counteract the effects of poison; something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts.
“Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, while it is said, "Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (RSV)
One way to receive encouragement is through Bible reading. More
As we read God’s word we will see words and ways to encourage people.
The words we choose to speak, and how we apply them, will bring in the desired results. (Words of encouragement vs. words that deal with depression and discouragement.)
“for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (RSV)
“and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (RSV)
Let us stir up one another with words of love, not hate, and words that would stir people towards good works rather than bad works.
Let us be involved in God’s agenda of “Encouragement” both as prevention and an antidote for a hard heart.
Since the scriptures (God’s word) are filled with encouragement for ourselves and others, let us be creative with what to say and how to speak to prevent a hard heart.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (RSV)
The scriptures are for encouragement and much more.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (RSV)
Receiving these truths let us run to God’s word and read the words we all need to hear.
Cotton can be used as an analogy to illustrate a heart that is encouraged. Let us first learn a few things about cotton and relate it spiritually to our lives.
Cotton is soft, pliable and white. (Learn more about cotton)
What about being soft? Spiritually speaking, when a person is encouraged their heart will be “softer”.
A person with a soft heart can give a soft answer in the midst of a contentious or controversial situation.
Having a soft heart does not mean that the individual is weak, rather they are wise. (soft does not mean weak.)
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (RSV)
What about pliable? Cotton is very pliable and very useful for many things.
Spiritually speaking, as we are encouraged we will be pliable (flexible) and useful to God. (See life of Paul Acts 9:1-19)
“The mind of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” (RSV)
What about cotton being white? Once processed cotton is pure and white. Likewise we are to be clean (through repentance) before God as we live out our lives on earth. (See 1 John 1:7-9)
As we stay clean with God, (through repentance) we grow stronger and stronger.
“Let your garments be always white; let not oil be lacking on your head.” (RSV)
Rocks are naturally a good analogy to illustrate a person who has a hard heart, since they are the opposite of soft.
Rocks are hard with no give. There is very little penetration. Rocks can be very rough, course or smooth.
Spiritually speaking, we may know people who are hard and resistant, not allowing God’s word to penetrate their lives. They can even be stubborn to receive wise counsel.
They can have a rough attitude and can be very course in their conversation. It is just as likely they are also smooth in speech and so deceive with ease. This is why daily encouragement is very important.
Notice I said rocks (plural). There are many areas to life. A believer can be hard (rock, resistant, little penetration, stubborn, rough, course, smooth) in one area of life and soft (cotton, flexible, encouraged) in another.
“Yet the righteous holds to his way, and he that has clean hands grows stronger and stronger.” (RSV)
“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (RSV)
Stay encouraged on a daily bases.
Read and pray daily.
Have a soft heart and be like Jesus.
Be pliable, flexible and useful for the Master’s work.
Keep clean and white as you go. (penitence)
Consider the following faith statements
to be spoken out loud
“By faith I will enter in God’s agenda of encouraging others and be an antidote for hard hearts.”
“By faith I will read God’s word to learn words and ways to encourage other people.”
Discover more as you watch this video!