Are you like I am?
I appreciate compliments and encouragement. They confirm when I’m on the right track and give me the inspiration to be better at who I am and what I do.
I have acquaintances whose input I value highly and lean upon heavily as I order my activities and endeavors. Then too, there are some whose encouragement I usually dismiss. Why the difference?
For me, encouragement doesn’t motivate me if it comes from someone who doesn’t understand what is involved in my potential undertaking. “You can do it” doesn’t mean much when uttered by someone who doesn’t know what it takes to ‘do it’. Encouragement does have merit, however, if the encourager has experience in what I’m hoping to achieve and has been successful. Plus, he has to know me well enough to make an honest, accurate appraisal of my chances for success.
As an example, consider the words of Jesus found in John 14:12 - “The works that I do shall you do also, and even greater works shall you do…”
Wow! Jesus the only begotten Son of God; the tempted yet sinless one; the one who became flesh, God with us; the one who did so many miracles, says that I, a believer, can successfully accomplish the same things He did. If anyone should know, He should. How exciting that He encourages us to ride our faith on missions of mercy to benefit people in need around us!
Why does He believe in us? He had experience relying on God’s Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit is promised to all believers and is the source of the power to do the kinds of things Jesus did. He has unshakable confidence that God does everything He promises He'll do. So, He can believe that we will do what God says He will enable us to do.
Encouragement is, after all, prophetic. While compliments recognize past accomplishments, encouragement, well, encourages future accomplishments.
“You can do it” or “You will succeed” both inspire faith; to do things not done before or to a higher degree than done before. True encouragement is not hollow or wishful. Rather, it is based on experience and relevant knowledge and induces faith.
When unrealistic encouragement is offered, the good intentioned prodding often causes crushing failure which can handicap that person's confidence for life. It’s like the classmate who encourages the dreamer to jump off of the barn roof with his cardboard wings. It induces faith, but there was no chance of success. As a result faith is unfulfilled and suffers.
Scripture warns us not to do that, calling it an offense. It is especially serious when the offended individual is young and trusting. This applies to both young in age and the spiritually immature.
Thus it behooves us to be discerning when we give and when we consider responding to encouragement. Proverbs warns against being man pleasers who tell people what they want to hear to gain favor with them. It also instructs us to listen to wise council rather than foolish ideas.
So, beloved, let us, with wisdom, encourage one another in love, lifting each other up daily as we seek to please God and minister to our fellow man.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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