Have you ever sat down to write an encouraging note to a friend? It may take some thought, but most of us can write an encouraging note. But what would you write to encourage people you have never met? The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome. Although he had worked with and knew some of the Christians there, most were strangers. Yet he said this in Romans 15:14, “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (NIV)
Think about those words – “full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct.” He said this at the end of the book in which he had to instruct and correct the church. They were condemning each other over dietary rules and other things. In fact, in the next verse, Paul admitted, “I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again.” (Romans 15:15 NIV)
We learn something about encouraging others by seeing what Paul did here. He gave them the benefit of the doubt. He complimented their character, knowledge and ability, seeing the positive even though he had taught and corrected them. Note also that giving them the benefit of the doubt in this case wasn’t Paul being unsure. He was convinced about their character, knowledge and ability. We also need to encourage others by communicating we are convinced about their positive traits.