When I think of encouragement, I would define it as lifting up another's spirit, giving advice, a simple act of kindness through word or deed, and serving others. All of these would be done in love.
The American Heritage Dictionary Second College Edition defines encouragement as: "The act of encouraging." Encouraging is defined as "Giving courage, confidence or hope." Encourage is defined as: "To inspire with hope, courage or confidence; hearten. To give support to; foster. To stimulate."
The Bible has several verses that mention encourage or some form of encouragement.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
1 Timothy 5:1 says "Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,"
Romans 1:12 says "that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine"
1 Corinthians 14:31 says "For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,"
Colossians 2:2 says "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ,"
Romans 15:4 says "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
Hebrews 6:18 says "so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us."
May you be encouraged by these verses tonight. I am.