Here is the Scripture of the day taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, [that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Today’s “one another” phrase is found at the end of a line of teaching given by the Apostle Paul regarding those who have died prior to the coming of Christ. This wrong view making the rounds in Thessalonica had actually created a kind pf depression or discouragement. Paul wants to correct the wrong view, and thus the discouragement, and then he wants those in the church to help one another by encouraging one another with his teaching. Here we see the theme of last week – Word – the theme of this week – One Another – meeting.
Truth and mutual; encouragement go hand in hand. It is good to be kind, to give a pat on the back, to encourage another person merely by kindness and tenderness of heart. But the idea of encouragement is not the same as that of comfort, though they are related. Here they are related. That which encourages will also comfort. But we are reminded here of one of the best reasons to have the word of God dwelling in our hearts and minds. By it we are then equipped to build up, comfort, exhort, and encourage our fellow brethren. Yes, it is true, sometimes just throwing a Scripture verse at a person is not very encouraging. But I don’t think Paul meant that here. I don’t think he meant “encourage one another by quoting me verbatim.” I think he meant “encourage one another by sharing the truth of what I am teaching you.” There are many ways to say the same thing. Being able gently to help reframe the perspective of another person takes wisdom, the prodding of the Spirit, and the knowledge of the person. All these help us to know best how and when to redirect thoughts toward truth which builds up. But we have to have that truth in us in the first place. I have seldom known people able to “comfort with these words” who never knew the words in the first place.
So, again, “encourage one with these words.”