Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
TITLE: Spiritual Friends Bring Encouragement
By Sherry A. Jackman
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God has sent me several spiritual friends through the years that provide encouragement for me. I even have two very special missionary friends that have provided much encouragement over the 43 year span that we have known each other. I first met them when they were my pastors at a small Indian home missions church on Hood Canal, Washington. Two years later I attended Brother M.’s graduation from college in Portland, Oregon where he went to take advanced courses in preparation for the mission field. I have stayed over night at their house and even helped them move their belongings from Portland, back up to Spanaway, Washington. Helping someone move can be a way of providing encouragement. These precious friends have encouraged me by taking a special interest in my unsaved spouse, making sure to include him in the dinner invitation when they took time out of their busy furlough schedule to take both of us to dinner or lunch. This past summer when they took me to lunch (this was the one time hubby didn’t go as he is in a nursing home), they blessed me with a love offering, as the Lord had laid it on their hearts to do. Encouragement doesn’t get any better than that. They also took time to minister to me with prayer and hugs. This special friendship is cherished by all of us and when my e-mails to them are answered, I feel special indeed.
Other ways that encouragement can be done are working alongside someone; reading to someone whose eyesight has gone, or learning how to describe a sunset to a blind friend. I have some blind friends I have known since I was seven years old and a couple years ago, had an opportunity to try to describe a sunset to my friend Douglas. I knew that he was not blind from birth, so knew some colors, but not to the extent that we describe colors. He has an idea of the color blue or brown, but not necessarily turquoise, teal, burnt sienna or raw umber. Therefore, trying to describe a sunset or other pictorial colorful scene to this precious blind man was challenging and yet encouraging to both of us. He is a precious friend of a different faith than mine, yet, I know he loves the Lord in his own way. Another way we encourage fellow believers is by writing traditional letters to them (snail mail), or spending time chatting, playing games or e-mailing over the internet. Anything that we do to make another person feel appreciated brings encouragement into their life. Encouragement can take place any time Christians are together. We are to encourage each other. David encouraged himself in the Lord. There is no one who is more vital to the Believer, than our Saviour, our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. These are all present when we commune with God, either by ourselves or in a group.
Encouragement does not mean nagging. Encouragement is a gentle way to get someone to do something that is good for them. Nagging is the opposite of encouragement. If we find ourselves nagging a fellow believer, rather than encouraging them to do what’s good for them, we need to stop and realize the Holy Spirit has to convict them regarding the activity we were trying to get them to undertake. If a Christian friend needs to see a doctor, we can encourage them to go; however, nagging them will only upset them and disturb a valuable friendship. I learned that this week. A friend revealed that he needed to see a doctor and had put it off due to the death of a parent and then just hadn’t gotten around to it. I tried praying for this person, but also mentioned his need to see a doctor often enough to be considered nagging, rather than encouraging. That was not what I intended and I realized I had to back off and let the Lord work in this person’s life. We can encourage one another, but we have to realize that we are not the Holy Spirit. We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit—only He can do that.
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