Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Ministry of Encouragement

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  –Romans 15:5, 6
People can certainly make odd statements, but I probably don’t need to tell you that.  No doubt you have endured some insensitive remarks from people who either weren’t thinking or simply didn’t care.  Either way those unkind words can be hurtful.  Many years ago while serving at a church in another state I was taking part in a church fellowship.  Door prizes were awarded and I won five free trips to a local tanning salon; the irony being that I almost never win anything and I never go to tanning salons.  A lady next to me observed my prize and I said to her, “Hey, what do you think of this?  I won five trips to a tanning salon.”   “Well, you need it,” she replied, “you always look so pale and sickly.”

I guess I could have had my feelings hurt over that mean comment, but I didn’t.  Instead, I was so taken back by the odd abruptness of it that I burst out laughing.  I’ve been chuckling now about that remark for nearly 20 years and the thought of it still makes me smile.  I considered that the person who said it was probably dealing with some hard issues that would attribute to her overall negative outlook on life.  That made me sad for her – to the point that I could feel no ill will toward her at all.  Indeed, she was missing out on the joy of Christ that could have been hers. 

Followers of Christ are called to be encouragers; not discouragers.  An encourager is one who seeks to lift others up, help them stand firm, and assure them that by God’s power whatever they are facing will work out to God’s glory and their benefit.  Being an encourager is a wonderful part of the ministry of love toward one another and all those around us.  A negative and critical spirit is contrary to what Christ has called us to demonstrate.  With the Lord’s help we can daily be about the work of encouraging those around us as opposed to tearing them down.

Ask yourself; am I am encourager or a discourager?  Seek the Lord’s help to cease from being critical and to begin encouraging others in the name of the Lord.  Offer some troubled soul a word of encouragement today.  You will be blessed and the one you encourage will be strengthened.   

As we encourage others, the Lord will encourage us – every day and through all circumstances. 

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