Sunday, November 30, 2008

Encourage one another

I shared this occurrence and reflection in a recent church newsletter and wanted to share it here also-

From what Scripture indicates, Barnabas was a great help to Paul. Barnabas literally means "son of encouragement". What an awesome namesake.

I am so grateful for the encouraging words of a Redeemer brother in Christ who made a special effort to share some positive observations about one of my sons a few Sundays ago as I was on my way to the worship service. Particularly, he noted how my son was showing maturity being respectful toward him and kind to his children. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated his willingness to share this short, but very personal and meaningful observation with me.

We all need encouragement during our spiritual journey. As a father, I especially need encouragement because I feel pretty incapable much of the time. I’ve read “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” several times, I have a very gifted wife who exercises great wisdom with our children regularly, still, for my part I wonder if the time and effort I spend discipling our boys is “working”. Do you ever feel this way? It could be about parenting or it could be some other aspect of our walk with God and call to assist in the spiritual maturity of others. We wonder if our efforts are having an eternal effect. No matter what the specifics are regarding our walk with God and interaction with others, we all need encouragement along the way. Mutual encouragement is a precious feature of a loving church community. I really felt this that Sunday morning. We have so many opportunities to build one another up by what we say. I am sure the brother who spoke to me had no idea how profoundly God used his words to encourage me. What a simple thing to do for each other- to offer genuine encouragement- yet most of us do it so little.

Can we be even more encouraging of one another? A little genuine encouragement (it has to be genuine!) goes a very long way. I want everyone to feel as uplifted as I did after my brother in Christ shared with me. I know there are many of you with the “gift” of encouragement, for you it comes more easily, so please use your gift in our midst. But let us make no mistake, we are all called to encourage one another, we see this in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Life is full of challenges and quite a few failures. When spiritual growth and maturity manifests itself, encouraging someone gives glory to God. When my brother complimented my son’s maturity there was a brief sense of personal pride, but very honestly, it vanished quickly because I know how deficient I am as a person and a father. If my son is exhibiting spiritual maturity, it is because of the grace of God, not because of me. Frankly, the fact that God’s grace is the mover in my son’s maturity is the ultimate encouragement, so a more objective “outside” party giving testimony to the work of the Spirit in his life is supremely encouraging and moves me to praise God.

So there it is- When we encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ for spiritual progress, it moves us to praise God- the One who is responsible for any spiritual growth!


Texanna said...

Encourage-To inspire with courage or confidence
To help bring about; foster.
This is the definition of Encourage
in a dictionary.
I think to Build up is a great one too.
When I meditate on this, I can't help but remember over the years the many people who encouraged me.
Like the person who encouraged me to try out for a position even though I thought I wasn't qualified, or the teacher who encouraged my artistic talent, or my Mother, etc. There are too many to list, but I thank God for each and everyone.
So my Brothers and Sisters, I challenge us all to not only encourage one another, but to say only words that will build one another up.
In Christ alone,

Malcolm said...

Are you now saying that you will even encourage Pastor Brian, he of the long hair? This will be a major step in your walk.

Reepicheep said...

Brian's long hair is awesome. I have no problem with it at all. Jesus likely had long hair.

Frontier Forest said...

It takes such little effort to share an encouraging word with a brother or sister. What a joy it is to come alongside believers and especially non-believers, offering words that build up. I think of enduring words that compliment encouragement: reach out to reassure, comfort, advise, strengthen, affirm, never showing a critical or jealous spirit, never seeking self-glory or vain recognition. Always discovering new and creative ways to continually, offer thanksgiving and praise, striving to build secure trusting relationships, always desiring to comfort but caring enough to confront, holding a confidence, urging others into positive, Christ-like actions.

Anonymous said...

Amen Frontier Forest,well said.
Brian's hair cool, it sorta fits his character, don't you think.

jeff said...

To add to Frontier Forest...

And yet, so many of us are so quick to gripe, complain, and pick each other apart, especially in a church. I'm continually amazed at the way people gripe about their church/pastor/worship service, and never give it a thought that their words are harmful to the Body.

Can you imagine what would happen if church members made it a point to give one encouraging word each Sunday to a brother, sister, or Pastor?