Sunday, August 17, 2008

Encouragement. A Christian Action.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,

I’m learning a little more each day, that this life is a hard life, and one that is impossible to live on my own. In fact, I am so glad that I have such a great family, such a great church, and recently, such a great support group in my closest group of friends. For without all of my associations, I certainly would find it all but impossible to live the Christian life that I’m told to live. There are just so many emotions wrapped up and intertwined in my associations, and all those emotions are exposed on a daily, weekly, and biweekly schedule. More than anything, I’m also learning a little each day that the greatest emotion that I’m to have toward all my associations is the one of Love. Luke 6:27-36 teaches me that I’m to Love my friends, and what’s even more difficult than that is that I’m also to Love my enemies or those who would even hurt me. Remember Jesus and the Love that He showed – even to those who were hanging him to a cross.

Love causes a lot of emotions too; a lot of emotions that I am still learning about. Love causes or allows or enables me to do certain things that I normally would not do. In fact, it’s just human nature for me to hate my enemies. And it’s this hate that would cause me to either run away, to avoid my enemies, or more than that, to plan out and destroy my enemies. The bible is full of these examples. Remember the Philistines and Sampson? Remember the Pharisees and Jesus, or Paul? These people hounded both physically and emotionally, the people of God. In fact, in a sense of the word, I am told that I should not destroy the work of God in this same way. Romans 14 talks about how I as a Christian should not be selfish and flaunt my liberties in front of other weaker Christians because by doing so, I am “destroying” that weaker Christian, and the work of God. There is a Greek word listed in Strong’s number reference 2647, which describes it best this way: to dissolve, disunite (what has been joined together), to destroy, demolish, overthrow, and deprive of success. God would rather have me “build up” my brother or sister, than for me to tear him or her down.

So, it is with that purpose that I will focus on and try to do better. That I may build up my fellow brother or sister, and also to Love everyone more. That I may encourage others as often as I can so that our faith will increase, and so that we will both be built up strong so that we can both stand in front of Satan, and turn our backs away from him and toward Jesus instead. There are many forms of the word encourage, most all would be very helpful to apply to my life. It is beneficial for me as a Christian, a member of the body of Christ, one forgiven by God to encourage another. It is beneficial for me as a Christian, to speak to another, rather than simply walk on by. Again, I'm back to the Love issue. Love of my fellow brother or sister should allow and enable me to “get out of my comfort zone” and stand up and serve in this way. Encouragement can also cause me to console others when they are hurting, sad, or depressed. It would also allow me to rejoice and be happy for others who are happy, instead of being jealous of their good fortune. Encouragement can also mean to speak to my fellow brother or sister in a humble way of teaching them, or reminding them of scripture. It’s sometimes easier for me to see problems in others, and offer my help, than it is for me to see the problems in my own life. But do I see the value of encouragement? If I cannot easily see the wrong in my life, then there’s always a need for me to have someone tell me. I need you, just like you need me, and together we can become stronger.

Even in the most difficult circumstances, encouragement can be found. Remember when apostle Paul was telling the story about the shipwreck on his way to Rome? He was on a boat with several other prisoners and armed guards. On their way, they encountered some very bad weather and the whole crew, 276 people feared for their life. Acts 27:21-36. It was then that the Holy Spirit gave Paul the words to speak, and he encouraged them and gave them instructions on what to do, and then he prayed in front of them all. All of them were encouraged by the words and actions of apostle Paul. They all calmed down, ate some food, followed Paul’s instructions, and all were saved.

When encouraging others is sometimes emotionally draining, it’s so wonderful to hear good words from others about good and happy thoughts. Remember once again the apostle Paul as he was in prison, writing several churches all over the country, and sending his faithful servants like Timothy to churches like the one in Philippi as found in Philippians 2:19. Paul said that he hoped that the Lord would allow him to quickly send Timothy over to the church at Philippi, so that Timothy could asses the status of the church there, and to hopefully inform Paul of the great news that the church is alive and well, and worshipping God in all peace and harmony. Good news is definitely encouraging.

It’s also such an encouragement to lift others up in their service to God. I should be extremely happy and supportive of my fellow brother or sister who chooses to serve God in the way that they have been called. Remember the story of Apollos as found in Acts 18:24-27. Apollos was a very knowledgeable and wise person, well trained in the scriptures and full of the Holy Spirit. When he wanted to go to other parts of the country to teach the word, he had many others who supported him in various ways. There were some there who even wrote reference letters for him to take with him as proof of his character, wisdom, and support from the church at Ephesus. I should also support my fellow brother or sister in their efforts to reach the lost for Christ.

I could go on and on, and I find this article already getting long. But, I have definitely made it a mission to try and “touch” others in this special way. It’s plain to see that it does so much good for others to be encouraged, but it also has the selfish benefit of encouraging myself as well. However, I would certainly covet your encouragement as well. It would really go a long way to lifting my spirits up, and I believe that you would quickly find that it would do the same for you, and the favor would definitely be returned.
Am I Listening to What God is Saying in His Word?

1 comment:

  1. Paul,

    Great insights my Brother. You point out one of the most powerful tools we have against the encourage one another in love. When we do that, we cannot lose. I am thankful that God is working through you in such a dramatic way; to see you reaching out to others in love for the benefit of Christ's bod which is the church.