What Does it Mean to Give Moral Support?

God wants us to love others, which includes offering words of encouragement and doing good. Love leads us to action, which means we must move beyond the common assumption of moral support and seek to love as Christ does.

Contributing Writer
Jun 01, 2022
What Does it Mean to Give Moral Support?

Merriam-Webster defines moral support as “the act of helping someone by giving love, encouragement, etc.” Typically, moral support involves the idea that “I’ll be there for you” instead of doing something to physically assist the person.

People offer moral support, for instance, when they attend their daughter’s sports game or offer to accompany a friend to a therapy appointment. The act of being present encourages others.

While our words and presence can provide comfort and support to others, the Bible encourages us to go beyond the basic definition of moral support. Instead of merely offering words to wish others well, Christians are commanded to love others, which compels us to action.

Bible Verses about Encouraging Others

The Bible does not mention “moral support” specifically, but it does include numerous passages about encouraging and supporting others.

As believers, we should build others up instead of tearing them down (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Our words can greatly impact others, which is why we should choose our words thoughtfully.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of this when he said, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

In addition to providing moral support or encouragement to build others up, we can also inspire others to serve God and help others. Scripture teaches us that we can encourage others to show “love and [do] good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

By providing support, Christians can motivate their family and friends in Christ to live their lives more fully for the Lord. One of the ways we do this is to meet with other believers regularly to spur them on to do good (Hebrews 10:25).

When we give our support to people, we are imitating God. He is the greatest encourager of His children. The Lord has given us His Word, which was given to teach and encourage us (Romans 15:4). Through the Bible, we receive strength and comfort to help us when we feel discouraged or afraid.

Furthermore, God supports us through His presence. When Joshua was afraid, the Lord gave him the promise that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Jesus has also given us the promise that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20).

He is rightly called “the God who gives endurance and encouragement” because He is there to strengthen us when we falter (Romans 15:5). Therefore, encouraging others through our words and presence can support others and inspire them to grow in the likeness of our Lord and Savior.

People in Scripture Who Gave Moral Support

The Bible provides multiple examples of people who offered support to others. Someone who stands out in Scripture as an encourager is Joseph of Cyprus, who the disciples called Barnabas.

As Luke recorded in Acts, the disciples called him Barnabas “which means ‘son of encouragement’” (Acts 4:36).

He willingly gave the apostles the money he earned from selling a field, which stands in stark contrast to Ananias and Sapphira, who tried to keep the money earned from a piece of property for themselves (Acts 4:37-5:1-2).

Barnabas also demonstrated an encouraging demeanor when he befriended Paul. After Paul (Saul) experienced conversion upon seeing the resurrected Lord, he tried to join the disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 9:3-19, 26).

However, because of Paul’s past reputation as a persecutor of the church, the disciples were afraid of him (Acts 9:26).

Barnabas befriended Paul and took him to the disciples, telling them of Paul’s faith and fearlessness in preaching the gospel (Acts 9:27). He encouraged the spiritually young Christian and supported him when no one else did.

Another person in Scripture who supported others was Mordecai. Not only did he take in his orphaned cousin, Hadassah, but he also raised her as if she were his daughter (Esther 2:7).

When Hadassah (Esther) was chosen as Xerxes’ new wife, Mordecai continued to encourage his cousin. Esther regularly turned to Mordecai for advice, which proved influential and important (Esther 2:21-23).

Although she was fearful of approaching her husband to speak for her people, Mordecai spurred her on to bravery.

As he told Esther, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

Because Mordecai was there for Esther, he was able to provide advice and encouragement to Esther when she needed it the most.

The Need to Act in Love

Giving people moral support can comfort and encourage people, but we should avoid a “cheerleader” mindset. Christians cannot just offer moral support to others without being willing to support them in other ways.

As the Bible says, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:16).

Merely giving nice words to others, like people cheering on the sidelines of a sports game, is not how Jesus has called us to live.

If moral support means giving love and encouragement to others, as the dictionary definition affirms, then this means that love should compel us to action. We are not supposed to stay on the sidelines, wishing others well.

God did not do this when He saw us in our sin. From the beginning, after humans sinned, He already had a plan in place to save us (Genesis 3:15). God’s love for us, which is based on His character, moved Him to action.

He sent His only Son to save us from bondage to sin and death (John 3:16). Jesus did not just offer moral support; He demonstrated His love by dying for us (Romans 5:8).

Likewise, we are meant to imitate our Savior and seek to help others (John 15:17). Sometimes, offering our support will mean sitting with a friend in their grief or being physically present when they need us the most.

For instance, Job’s friends were correct in offering moral support during Job’s time of intense grief and suffering (Job 2:11-13).

Other times, God wants us to encourage others through our actions. When we encounter the physical and spiritual needs of others, we need to act by providing food, clothing, and medical assistance while sharing the gospel message (Proverbs 22:9; Matthew 25:36-40; Luke 12:33-34; James 1:27).

For example, refugees who seek shelter in our country or abroad need more than just our words of concern or support. Like the Good Samaritan, we love our neighbor by helping in tangible ways while showing the love of God to the person in need (Luke 10:25-37).

Why Does This Matter?

Most people are familiar with the term “moral support.” We often lend our words and thoughts to others when they are experiencing challenges, pain, or suffering. Although giving moral support is not wrong, we need to avoid thinking that it is all that we can do to help people.

God wants us to love others, which includes offering words of encouragement and doing good. Love leads us to action, which means we must move beyond the common assumption of moral support and seek to love as Christ does.

For further reading: 

Is Accountability the Same as Being Judgmental?

What Is the Importance of Having a Spiritual Family?

What Does the Bible Say about Choosing Friends?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/fizkes

Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

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