July 26, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michael Wright @ 8:18 pm

Are you an encourager?

1 Thess. 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”

Heb. 3:13 – “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.”

Heb. 10:25b – “Encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. “

Have you encouraged anyone today, or have you discouraged fellow Christian today? As Christians, we have a Biblical duty to encourage each other, and especially as we approach the return of Christ.

I like this devotional thought, written by John Shore, and used with permission:

Encouragement – Be A Barnabus

If you read in the books of Acts, you can learn something about a man named Barnabus. An apostle, he was a co-worker with Paul on his first missionary journey. Read Acts 9:27 and more in Acts – Chapters 13-15. Barnabus was known as “the encourager.” Would you like to be known as an encourager too?

Do you use words that truly benefit and leave a positive impression upon those to whom you speak? I Thessalonians 5:11 reads: “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” The Apostle Paul stresses the importance of speaking wholesomely. Here are three insights from this passage that will help you make your conversations more meaningful:

1. Never use bad language. Last year, while attending a professional football game, a fan sitting behind us used a four letter word on a continuous basis. If a player on the local team made a bad play, the fan would blare out a cuss word. I looked at this person several times, but failed to ask him to refrain from such language. However, I prayed for him as I could not believe that an adult, who appeared to be a very decent person, could allow himself to use such a choice of words. Fortunately, there were no youngsters around and the curse words ceased. As Christians, our speech should be positive and uplifting, not vulgar and crude. Such speech draws away from Christ and does nothing to encourage others.

2. Listen before you speak. Don’’t just pretend to be interested – really listen. You won’’t know what would be helpful to say to an individual unless you understand his or her needs, questions, and hurts. James instructs us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (See James 1:19). This is something I have to constantly work on for when your plate seems to be full, it is not always easy to turn your attention away from the project you are trying to complete and listen to others.

3. Strive to honor Christ in what you say. The greatest way we can bless or encourage others with our conversation is to point them to our Savior. We should use words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people. For instance, when someone begins talking about a hurt in his or her life, take that opportunity to somehow bring the hope that Jesus Christ gives you into that discussion. Every day, we have an opportunity to be a blessing to others. Part of the Optimist Creed is that we should “talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.”

Unfortunately, with our busy, hectic lives, the quality of our conversations with others often suffers. Generally, for most men, our discussions seem to revolve around “surface” issues like the weather, sports events, the latest headlines, or our workday. Women, I am told, are able to speak about issues that are deeper and more thought provoking. As Christians, we should go the “extra mile” to make our conversations more meaningful so that those who listen to us will be encouraged and refreshed by what we say. Those who follow Paul’s advice will not only develop deeper friendships, but will also be effective witnesses for the Lord.

A couple of stories were recently passed along to me which regarded encouragement through words. The authors are unknown.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up at his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation and much more.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band, he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.

The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Epilogue: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared is doubled.

“Today is a gift, thatÂ’s why it is called the present.”

A similar story about a group of frogs may touch your heart.

This group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit.

All of the other frogs gathered around the pit.

When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up and out of the pit.

The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead.

Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. He fell down and died. The other frog (his name was Barney) continued to jump as hard as he could.

Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at Barney to stop the pain and suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out of the deep hole.

When Barney got out, the other frogs asked him, “Why did you continue jumping? Didn’t you hear us?” The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

This story teaches us two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through this day.
2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path.

A few principles for comforting others in times of need:

1. Listen well and tell others the truth. Realize that people never get over grief until they express it fully.
2. Focus on understanding his or her situation and emphasize with his or her pain before speaking.
3. Turn others toward God. Share Proverbs 3, vs.5-6.
4. Accept others and love them unconditionally.

The power of words is sometimes hard to understand. An encouraging word can go a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times. Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another. Be special to others. Say an encouraging word to everyone you meet. Be a Barnabus by continually offering encouragement to those whom you encounter regardless of the situation.

You know, sometimes a simple kind gesture is all you need to communicate your love. With the tremendous “heat wave” that much of our nation has been experiencing, perhaps a ice cold cup of water or lemonade would be priceless along with a kind word. Look for opportunities to bless others. It could be a neighbor, co-worker or shut-in. Then, you will be blessed too.


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