Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
TITLE: Melt Down the Saints and put Them in Circulation
By Petra van der Zande
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Cromwell ordered, “Good. We’ll melt down the saints and put them into circulation.”
Henri Drummond wondered, “How many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by the unlovely characters of those who profess to be inside?”
Craving encouragement, hurting, discouraged people enter the church, but the assembled “saints” are too busy polishing their statues to “shine for Jesus”. They don’t notice the drooping shoulders, the pleading eyes, the silent cries for a listening ear or a comforting hug. Utterly discouraged and feeling worthless, the hurting people leave again, affirmed they are not important enough for someone to care about them.
“Let Christ Jesus be your example as to what your attitude should be.” (Phillipians 2:5 Phillips.)
Jesus had compassion for those who were down, the needy, the discouraged, and the forgotten.
Our love for God is expressed in our love for others. But many Christians don’t want to follow Jesus’ example and guard their privacy, time and resources carefully.
Let those with the “gift” do the encouraging, is their motto, resulting in an epidemic lack of it.
Discouragement is rampant, and today, more than ever, this world needs people who are sensitive to others, and make an effort to show God’s love in a practical way.
We don’t need to attend a 6-week course to become an encourager. It can be done by using everyday skills and expertise, and while we practice-what-we-preach, the habit becomes a life-style. Even children can be taught this principle at an early age.
“Can you make a drawing for aunt Mary? She’s a bit sad….”
“He who sees a need and waits to be asked for help is as unkind as if he had refused it.” (Dante)
On top of your promise, “I’ll pray for you, God bless you, sister!” look for ways to offer practical help.
Ask God to fine-tune your ear to “hear” the heart-cries of the quiet, hurting people that are too shy to speak up.
Listen to that persistent “nudging” of the Holy Spirit - and act.
This is the phase when the encourager is vulnerable, because sometimes your good intentions are not received favorably. But more often, an inner prompting like, “Call her”; “Give some money”; “Say nothing, just hug her”, will have awesome results.
You’ll be glad you obeyed and joy will flood your soul.
When we are open to God’s guidance, he will give creative ideas, which don’t need to be time-consuming. A grocery box anonymously left on a doorstep, or a casserole you cooked while preparing your own family meal. Even home-made cards with a comforting Bible verse will do. It’s the thought that counts.
Listening is called the quiet love.
An attentive ear can be enough for a sick, hurting or grieving person. Those are the times when words should be the fewest.
“One kind word can warm up three winter months”. (Japanese proverb.)
A timely word (not flattery) can bring a smile on a tear-streaked face, rekindle a seemingly lost dream, and send someone’s spirit soaring.
Don’t complain to the restaurant owner, find something to thank him instead – perhaps you make his day.
In having suffered and being comforted by God and others, God wants us to do the same.
We can channel God’s love and encouragement because he is the Source from which we are replenished.
In the book of Acts we read that Barnabas was called “Son of Encouragement”.
In the Greek legal system a “Parakletos” was known as a person who was called in to help, sent for, came to someone’s aid, encouraged, comforted, consoled and exhorted. The Holy Spirit, “Paraklesis”, comes from the same root.
From Acts 11 we learn that Barnabas was someone who thought others were important; he was sensitive to their needs and looked for ways to help – practically and financially. He had a true servant’s heart and didn’t mind playing second fiddle when Paul took the leadership role.
We can’t show God’s love to the hurting people when we are uninvolved polished statues, tucked in our niches. “Melted down, we are to be circulated (especially during the week), out there, where bottom-line theology is top-shelf priority.” (Charles Swindoll.)
In obedience to God we are to take action - encourage one another and build one another up. Hebrews 6:10 will be our reward.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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