Here, take my hand

En·cour·age:
to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; hearten.
To give support to; foster.
To stimulate growth; spur onward in personal development.

Recently I have re-committed myself, with varying success, to seek to encourage, to be a person who adds ‘oxygen to the room’ rather than sucking the life out of others with critical or negative words. I don’t mean to suggest that I will be dishonest or a phony, that guy who insincerely pours out nonsense. But, overall, I believe a worthwhile aim is to desire, with God’s help, to choose to give hope, to lift up others.

Many years ago, at a time in my life when I was following a dream on a road full of potholes and detours I met a generous soul who was an amazing encourager!  That guy, knowing I needed a job to support my family, introduced me to his boss and then quit on the spot telling that man to hire me!  He showed up at our door with bags of groceries. He introduced me to a pastor who taught me about the grace of God.  Though nearly a half century has passed, I have never forgotten the pivotal role that Tom played in my life during a difficult year.

In the story of the early Church there is this mention of a man with a gift. “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:36-37, NIV)  Joe was such an encourager that Peter nicknamed him, Barney, ‘the encouraging guy.’  The name stuck and for the rest of Acts we know him by that name that described his gift.

Christ Jesus calls on us to active caring. It isn’t enough to passively love each other. We can, by the help of the Spirit, pour life and hope into others.  Teaching about the ways that God, the Holy Spirit, works through us, Paul says “if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:8-10, NIV)  

The writer of Hebrews is direct: “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out,” (Hebrews 10:24, The Message)

Let me plant some practical suggestions in your mind of ways you might be an encourager today:

a. Send a note of sincere appreciation
or small gift to someone who has served you sacrificially.

b. Take note of a person who’s work is ‘behind the scenes’
and sincerely compliment their efforts.

c. Offer to pray with a friend that seems overwhelmed by life,
then pray a positive prayer full of words of blessing.
(Careful, don’t preach while you pray!)

d. Roll up your sleeves and practically lift someone’s burden
for a couple of hours;
mow their lawn, watch their kids, cook their dinner,
or take them to a movie.

e. Actively listen if someone opens their heart
without offering any advice.
Let them unburden their heart to you.
Let your eyes and posture say, “I really do care!”

The world is full of critics. It is easy to point out another’s flaws. It is often easy to ‘see’ (in our self-important opinion, anyway) why our brother or sister is in that situation. “Well, if she would just…. ” Can the criticism. It doesn’t help. A preacher once told me, “Just about anyone can do demolition, but it takes real skill to be a builder!”

The word from the Word for today is a contemporary paraphrase of this passage. Meditate on the wisdom here and pray to encourage. “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, The Message)

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

Find Us Faithful

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us
Line the way
Cheering on the faithful
Encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament
To God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great
A cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race
Not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness
Passed on through godly lives

Oh may all who come behind us
Find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion
Light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey (to obey)
(Oh may all who come behind us)
(Find us faithful)

After all our hopes and dreams
Have come and gone
And our children sift through all
We’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover
And the mem’ries they uncover
Become the light that leads them
To the road we each must find

Find us faithful
Oh may all who come behind us
Find us faithful

Jon Mohr © 1987 Birdwing Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Jonathan Mark Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)

CCLI License # 810055

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