1) to inspire with courage, spirit or hope
2) to spur on
3) to give help or patronage to
4) to attempt to persuade
As I read that I was thinking 1 - yep, 2 - yep, 3 - yep, 4 - wait, what? When I think of encouragement I don't really think of attempting to persuade someone....but after some reflection, that is exactly my goal when I am encouraging others. I am attempting to persuade them that there is a greater Good in the world. To show them just a tiny glimpse of the encouragement that I receive each day from my Savior. And most of the time without really even meaning to, I am trying to persuade that person that Jesus loves them to! (The Creator of the Universe love ME?! I know that is a huge encouragement for me!)
Remember when you were in elementary school and your mother taught you that "actions speak louder than words" ? Well, she was right (about that and about a million other things!). When you are attempting to persuade someone that Jesus loves them, actions can speak much louder than words.
Telling someone you are praying for them in a difficult time (words)
Taking a few minutes to pray with them (action)
Thinking about helping an elderly neighbor (words)
Bringing their garbage can back from the curb for them (action)
Listening to a co-worker who has a big house project they are working on (words)
Using your day off to go and help with the project (action)
Now, don't get me wrong, words can be very powerful. Both written and spoken. But there are sometimes when action is needed to persuade and encourage someone. I can't remember exactly which marriage book we were reading, but the author wrote something that has stuck with me and Daniel.
"God gave us two ears and only one mouth, so we can be reminded to listen twice a much as we speak."
I think this could be applied here as well. We have one mouth and two hands. What can you use your two hands for today to encourage someone and persuade them of God's great love for them?