Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are You a "Son of Encouragement?"

Note: I borrowed the picture to the right from Compass Church because it fit so clearly the brief comment I wanted to make for tonight's post.

I've been convicted lately by some of the attitudes I carry inside—mainly displeasure with how things have gone over the past few months in my life. It's an interesting situation, because I verbally really try to be a Barnabas-like character, whom Luke describes in Acts 9. Barnabas was actually a nickname with the meaning, "Son of Encouragement." So many people, even within the Christian community, walk around these days carrying such heavy personal burdens. We need encouragement, but what if we were to compare how much encouragement we offer vs. complaints, criticism, nit-picking, if not downright hostility or resentment.

That makes me doubly annoyed with myself, because while I am encouraging verbally to others who need it, on the inside I am anything BUT feeling encouraged of late. I know better, and know first and foremost what the solution is. But to kick oneself in the pants and follow through...

We find our joy in the Lord Himself and in His indwelling Holy Spirit, and in the sure promises contained in His Word. Our joy shouldn't be tied to our personal circumstances, but it so often is. And how is it when I offer up encouraging words that may not be springing forth from the well of joy and encouragement in my own heart, because I am nursing a bad attitude.

I have to get my attitude adjusted. The key to overcoming this rather poison mindset is recalling thanksgiving and praise for what God has done for me. When one has a thankful heart, it's hard to be a glowerpuss. And when one overflows with thanksgiving, it is easier to hold someone up who is downcast, and reassure them that God has not forgotten them, that their circumstances do not limit the power of God to move in their lives, and to accomplish great things even though we might not see them right away.

We all have such power in our mouths. We can lift up, bring cheer, comfort, peace, admonishment, and yes, encouragement. Or we can bring the opposite qualities, which is being disobedient and untrusting of the Lord.

We have great examples in Scripture of character to emulate, and character to avoid. The world is a darkening place, and the light of the Gospel is needed more than ever. May it begin with a prayer and an encouraging word. Lift someone up, and remind them of just how loved they are by the Creator of the Universe.

Sometimes even words aren't necessary. Just a hug, a pat on the hand, even sitting silently beside a troubled one just listening. And then lifting them up in prayer, knowing that the prayer of a righteous man avails much.

None of this, of course, discounts the necessity that exists in the church from time to time of confronting and rebuking sin, and dealing with difficult subjects through the light of God's Word. But let's not forget that encouragement is also a ministry within the church. We need to engage in more of it, walking in the great, eternal, and everlasting compassion of Christ.

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