Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Much has been said on this topic in my "circle" lately. What does encouragement look like, what does it mean? I have been mulling it over for a few days. I believe that encouragement looks different to different people. And, for the believer, sometimes encouragement looks painful. Painful? you ask.....Well, yes. Sometimes, it is painful and hard to hear the truth. Sometimes in LOVE and encouragement, our friends or family might come to us to point out sin or challenge us in our thinking and, if we are willing to humble ourselves to hear it, in the end, we walk away more encouraged....at least I do. It is painful for a time but almost always ends with JOY and encouragement. In the world today, we are told to do what feels good, we are told to take time for ourselves and to forget about everyone else and just focus on YOU. Well, that is NOT what scripture says....Scripture tells us that when Christ redeemed us, He did so in order that we would now be "zealous for good works." In my book, A Gospel Primer, the author says: " Being naturally lazy, I do not normally thrill at the prospect of work; but the more I embrace the saving work of God on my behalf, the more I find myself embracing the works for which God saved me." "And, as I am "working hard" at doing these works for the good of others, I experience the truth of Jesus' words:"It is more blessed to give than to receive." SOOO contrary to what the world tells us. But wow! What about encouraging? I often think about saying a kind word or doing some small deed which DO encourage people but, here are some other ways that I THINK we can encourage one another: These are in no particular order 1. Listen. (this is so hard for me) I mean I LOVE to talk. I do like to listen too but usually, I like to interject something.....But, I am not sure that is REAL listening. I mean I am not saying NEVER interject, but give time and listen. 2. Take an active interest in the life of someone. Find out about what is going on with them and their family. Ask about their kids and how "life" is. 3. Have a meal with someone. Invite a friend over for coffee or a meal. It does not have to be fancy....sometimes just an invitation is enough. 4. Send a card! Everyone loves getting mail 5. Talk voice to voice. ( I have a friend who really does NOT love talking on the phone, but often she will take time to be on the phone with me and sometimes for 30 minutes or MORE! that is love and it encourages me.) 6. Talk about spiritual things. What an encouragement. I mean really, what else in this world matters????? When you share spiritually, I feel way more connected and it provides a level of accountability. It is encouraging to know that I am not on this journey alone. 7. Speak truth! Oy, this one is hard, I know and some of you might be shaking your head about HOW this is encouraging, but, it really is. (this one is hard for me as I do NOT like confrontation) But, the MOST loving thing you can do is point someone to the Lord and to the truth. 8. Do something special. Give a gift (money is tight right now for me and for many that I know, but there are little things that can be done. Hubby and I give little things to eachother that we call "happies") Give those happies. Sometimes, it might be a fun coffee cup that you found on sale or it might just be a candy bar! 9. Pray for people. You don't have to even tell them you are praying. But, one way you can encourage someone is by praying for them and letting them know that you have been praying for them. 10. Share scripture. There are lots of times that I come across a verse and I share with friends or family because I think it would be an encouragement to them. 11. ASK questions! Find out what encourages others. Ask them how you can be an encouragement to them. There are lots of other ways that you can encourage people. And, why not start it at HOME first? I am quick to serve others, but find it hard to reach out to the people within the 4 walls of my home. Shame on me and shame on you too if you find yourself in this place! (notice the encouragement in that?) :) Seriously, though! Find ways to say YES. Find ways to bless your husband or kids. Sometimes, it is in the little things. For instance, my sweet girl wants to do a picnic dinner! How hard is that? really....but for 3 days, I have found myself saying no, not tonight! But, you know what, We ARE going to do it this weekend, and won't she be blessed by it? Dear Father, thank you that you never give up on me. Thank you that you have given us your word to guide us and to help us live a life that encourages others and brings honor and glory to you. Father, help me to live in such a way that others see YOU in my life and help me to encourage others to a life of godliness. In Jesus name, Amen!