Note the rest of verse five however. Note the result of seeking the God of endurance and encouragement through His living Word. It is so we may live in harmony as believers. One of the most misunderstood Christian concepts today is unity. The modern theories of church growth have perverted unity into agreement within a church building instead of agreement within a kingdom. What is the caveat in verse five? Our harmony with one another, our unity, must be in accord with Christ Jesus. If we are not unified in Christ we are not unified at all. In fact, a closer examination of Scripture reveals it is through false doctrine that discord is truly sown:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. - Romans 16: 17-18 (ESV)
What causes division and creates obstacles? Contrary doctrine! False teachers! That is why there are so many verses warning us about it! The people who encourage you with lies are the very people who are dividing the unity within the body of Christ. They are serving only their own appetites. Maybe it is their appetite for greed and avarice. Maybe it is their appetite for personal glory and fame. Maybe it is their appetite for power. Whatever their motivation it is not the unity of the body in accord with Christ Jesus. How do I know that? If it were, they would be encouraging you with the Word of God. Their primary focus would be on sound doctrine, not the smooth talk of man. We need to realize that their encouragement is nothing more than flattery designed to deceive the hearts of the naive. And yes, naive we are if we sit under teaching that does not conform to Scripture and bring us into accord with Christ Jesus. Naive we are if we scorn those who would tell us the truth, which is true encouragement, and embrace those that would scratch our itching ears to tell us lies we would rather hear. Paul concludes our key verses for today:
that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15: 6 (ESV)
So what is the point of unity in accord with Christ Jesus? What is the point of seeking this unity through the truth that can only be found in His living Word? It is so that we may in one voice glorify our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes beloved, the final truth about encouragement is that it is not about us. It must always be about Him. The Bible says our life is but a vapor here on earth but eternity lasts forever. The sad truth is far too often we simply value the wrong life. We seek encouragement for this temporal time and ignore the work of the cross and what the spilled blood of Jesus Christ purchased for us. Does that mean that we are to be miserable? Of course not. There is no misery in the Word of God - only freedom. God works all things out for our good beloved. There was a time in the life of David where he really needed some encouragement. While he was off fighting, the Amalekites invaded Ziklag, burning it to the ground and carrying off the families of David and his men as prisoners. As if that was not a bad enough day, his men were speaking of stoning David for they blamed him. That's a pretty bad day. He did not choose to watch Joel Osteen so he could feel better about himself. He did not seek out someone to falsely assure him that everything would be OK if he just had more positive self talk. He turned to God!
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. - 1Samuel 30: 6 (KJV)
He encouraged himself in the Lord His God. This is what we need to be doing as well. Only God has the encouragement that will last. We need to stop seeking men for the next big revelation when God Himself revealed all to us in His Word. Encouragement starts with believing that there is nothing more important in the walk of a Christian than ensuring we are listening to the truth. That our doctrine is sound so that we can spot when someone is lying to us with smooth talk and flattery designed to make us feel good temporarily but still circling the same mountain. There is a victorious and encouraged Christian life out there. One where we get to have real unity in accord with Christ Jesus - all to bring glory to the Father. It is not found in the words of men. True encouragement is only found, in the Word of God.