“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NKJV).
When Moses, the Man of God, died at the end of Israel’s wilderness travel, the young man Joshua was elevated to the leadership of the nation. At the time of his appointment he was told to “be strong and of good courage” by three different beings: first by Moses who appointed him (Deuteronomy 31:7), then by God himself (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9), and finally by the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh (Joshua 1:18).
Actually, by the time he was appointed to lead Israel, Joshua could no longer be considered a young man. He was above the age of 20 when they were delivered from Egypt (Numbers 14:29-30), therefore he was at least 60 when Moses died. Yet, compared to the venerable man of God he was young both in age and experience. He was also facing a brand new challenge, to lead a mixed multitude of men, women, children and possessions into a land already occupied by strong nations.
We all face situations that are daunting, which cause us to doubt our abilities and question the possibility of success. And we all are aware that one of the greatest barriers to that success is our own hesitancy. James taught about the need for certainty of faith in prayer:
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” ( James 1:6).
Uncertainty causes failure in more than prayer. Good leadership must be decisive and confident. Any doubt as to one’s course of action will discourage those who follow and undermine the authority and abilities of the leader.
Uncertainty also leads to failure in individual efforts. One cannot devote all of his energies and resources into any enterprise until he has first reached a firm decision as to the correct course of action. Only when he is sure can he commit totally.
That is why encouragement is so vital. Few people, if any, are so self-confident that they can always act only upon their own convictions. It is always easier to know that others are in agreement, and that others support their decisions. The less experience one has, or the more unusual the endeavor, the more important such encouragement becomes.
Joshua received support both from those to whom he respected most (Moses and God), but also from those whom he was to lead (the army of Israel). Obviously when someone of high authority gives his blessing to some work, it carries much weight. But no encouragement is insignificant. The humblest of workers, pledging cooperation, strengthens any enterprise.
Criticism usually abounds. One does not have to ask for it, it is generally offered liberally. But encouragement is less evident. Yet this is one of the primary tasks of the church, “to stir up” one another that we might abound in Christian love and good deeds. Our fellowship works best when we are mutual encouragers, always fighting doubt and discouragement by lending emotional as well as physical support to all who would do well.