We can encourage our fellow-believers often by an honest admission to them of our humanness and of our struggles.
We are called to be witnesses of Christ. But if in our testimony, we give others a false impression of our lives, then we are actually false witnesses. The vast majority of believers fall into this category. They give others a glorious account of their triumphs but never say a word about their struggles or their failures. They testify to many prayers God has answered, but mention nothing about the prayers for which God's answer was No. They describe all their mountain-top experiences in detail, but never so much as mention a word concerning the many long valleys that lay between those mountain-tops. They are false witnesses, for they give an unreal picture of the Christian life.
I remember, as a young Christian, struggling to live a life that was pleasing to God, hearing many such testimonies from other Christians. Not one of them told me, either from the pulpit or in personal conversation, that they too had fears and unresolved problems and unanswered prayers, or that there were things in the Bible that puzzled them too. I assumed therefore that such problems and queries were peculiar to me. The result was that all their testimonies only discouraged me; and discouragement in turn, led me further away from the Lord.
Then I read in the Bible of how the great Apostle Paul was often perplexed, how he despaired, how some of his prayers were not granted, how some of the sick people he prayed for were not healed, and how he even had fears, and was comforted in his depression by fellow-believers (2 Cor. 4:8; 1:8; 12:8,9; 2 Tim. 4:20; 2 Cor. 7:5,6). Paul's honesty lifted my spirit and I was encouraged to press on.
Paul never wanted others to have a false impression of him (2 Cor. 12:6). And so, he told them in plain words that he was a human being - not an angel. He lived in victory over all known sin, but he was still a human being who could make mistakes and in whom the flesh was still not eradicated. Paul's aim was always to help others, not to impress them. Through his honesty about his humanness, he became an instrument of encouragement to many.
It is the desire to impress others which makes many of us unwilling to be honest with them about our struggles and our anxieties. This shows that we are not really interested in helping them to a closer walk with God. We are not concerned that they are discouraged by the unrealistic standards that we have set before them. We seem to be quite content as long as we ourselves are held in high esteem.
There is a price to be paid if we are to be channels through which the Holy Spirit encourages others - the price of honesty.