Monday, September 24, 2012

We All Need Encouragement

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Hebrews 10:23-25
It’s a cliché, of course, in a generation that understands that “Men are from Mars . . . and Women Are from Venus,” but men tend to be more competitive in their communication and women tend to be more relational.  Women are more apt to encourage one another. You’ll hear it at church. One woman will meet another and one will say, “How nice you look! What a beautiful dress. I believe you’ve had your hair cut. It looks so good!” Can you imagine two men greeting each other that way? “Mike, how handsome you look today. That suit really makes you look buff.” It just doesn’t happen. And what a shame.

We all need encouragement. Don’t we?  Is there anyone here who is offended when someone gives them a genuine compliment? That wonderful old philosopher Dr. Samuel Johnson once put it like this,
“The applause of a single human is of great consequence.” And it is.

Even one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, needed tangible encouragement to spur his sometimes sagging confidence. When Lincoln was tragically killed, several items were found in his pockets: an embroidered handkerchief, a watch, and some confederate money.  But most interesting of all was a ragged copy of a newspaper article.  The article had been written during a time of great controversy and turmoil in the country.  In the text of the article, the writer extolled Lincoln’s virtues, approving of the decisions he had made in office.

Lincoln was not that different from the rest of us. He needed to be appreciated. He cherished applause from those who observed him, and there is no one in this world who does not need that from time to time. We need to be affirmed, appreciated and applauded.

The Apostle Paul was an encourager.  He applauded those who deserved to be applauded.  He affirmed those who needed to be affirmed.  He was continually expressing his appreciation for the people who kept the churches going in Philippi, Thessalonica, and elsewhere.  Listen to these words he wrote to the church:  just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) That’s St. Paul.  He was an encourager.  And that’s important.  The world has enough critics.  What we need are more who will seek to encourage.

Scripture to Claim:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.  Ephesians 4:29

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