Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)
TITLE: To Hug Or To Kick
By Doug Laird
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Paul’s letter was written to denounce the false reports that the Rapture had already taken place.
To this day, there are Biblical topics that will raise anxiety and fear in the souls of immature believers.
By immature, I am referring to born-again believers who have either neglected to build confidence by continuing in the Word (John 8:31), or who remain earthly-oriented and dread the thought of leaving.
Since the majority of Christians do not aspire to attain spiritual maturity, Satan and the Ephesians 6:12 forces and authors of religion are provided with an open door through which false doctrine and practices enter and take root.
Faith and fear are antithetical. The more we have of one, the less we have of the other. Only born-again believers who continue in the Word develop the ability to replace fear with faith. Faith it is not only the action of believing, but consists of what it is that we believe.
Whatever Biblical subjects generate fear, anxiety, or consternation in our souls are areas in which there is a lack of knowledge or an unwillingness to apply the appropriate Scripture.
It is when we learn and apply the truth that fear can be replaced with faith.
Such edification is not just for our own benefit, but is to be shared with fellow believers who are struggling with the same issues that once held us in the bondage of ignorance and generated fear.
God allows our comfort zones to be rattled in order to motivate us to either learn the truth, or to apply the truth that we have already obtained.
A commonly experienced fear is the fear of death in which the devil (Hebrews 2:15) holds the immature believers in its grasp throughout their entire lifetime here on Earth. Truly, how one perceives death reveals much about where a believer is in his post salvation spiritual death.
It is not merely the learning of doctrine, but the willingness to apply what we learn to how we think and what we do that will tip the faith/fear scale in our favor.
Encouragement in the spiritual realm requires us to abandon our focus on the here and now in exchange for prioritizing the eternal outlook. Our choice of orientation, earthly or eternal, will be reflected in our list of priorities.
The danger here is that one can become so “heavenly” that he o she is no “earthly” good, as far the production of divine good is concerned.
God wants us to have different interests and to enjoy activities of an earthly and secular nature.
It is in the midst of such activities that the advancing disciple is given opportunities to evangelize unbelievers and to edify fellow believers who share the same secular interests. It is there that the non-verbal testimony of our overt lifestyle will be used by God the Holy Spirit to attract and to arrange divine and the edification of fellow believers with whom we share these activities.
It is when we prioritize these earthly activities over eternal issues that we get into spiritual trouble (Luke 14:26).
All of us need guidance and encouragement.
Accordingly, we should devote time each day to have a conversation with God. Conversations involve speaking and allowing others to speak. In prayer, we do most of the talking and God listens. In the study of His Word, God does the talking and we do the listening.
Messages of encouragement are not always ones that bring comfort and joy.
Some messages of encouragement will be most challenging as they hit home and cause us to view what is impeding our forward progress with open eyes.
To encourage means to promote another’s ability to think and to function in the midst of adversity.
In the realm of spiritual combat, one must learn what to say (1Cor. 2:16), when to say it (Eccl.3:7), and to do so with the enabling power of God (John 15:5).
Sometimes we encourage with a hug, and there are times that instead of being an “enabling” shoulder to cry on, encouragers will perceive the need to provide a “kick in pants” that a procrastinating believer needs to receive in order to move on with the plan of God.
The discernment to know when to hug (Eccl. 3:5) and when to kick (Eccl. 3:8) is critical to function as an encourager.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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