1 Thessalonians 5:8–11 ‘He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’ (vv10–11)

In a world that celebrates criticism, life demands courage. Media leads the way with its continuous assault on both the character and motives of public figures, politicians and personalities. Daily conversations complain about human failings and negativity grows into a national characteristic. 

At school parents’ evenings I explained that my daughter responded to encouragement, not criticism. Obviously there is always room for improvement, but what best encourages such growth? Encouragement means to put courage or heart into a person, something we can all benefit from because we all need support, confidence and hope as we struggle with life. 

God adopts this approach to encourage discipleship. Reading God’s living Word is a great way to discover God’s encouragement (Ps. 119:105). We are all products of our past experiences and these will shape our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. This creates a variety of internal anxieties, many of which can be magnified depending on the lens through which we read God’s Word. 

We easily lose sight of His encouragement through self-judgement, or worse, shaming others by judging from our perspective alone. God is unphased by our human frailty because He chose to demonstrate His love for us when we were completely lost, confused and alone. 

The purpose of God’s Word is to put courage into our hearts so we might remain confident in God’s way. The problem with criticism is that we are deceived by its lie and depart from the truth of God’s inexhaustible love.

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SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER:
Ps. 23:4–6; Isa. 40:28–31; 1 Thess. 2:7–13; Heb. 10:19–25

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AN ACTION TO TAKE:
Criticism is never God’s chosen tool for discipleship, for it can never put courage into our hearts. How can you encourage others?

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A PRAYER TO MAKE:
‘Lord, may Your encouragement enable me to grow and flourish like a flower opens to the warmth of the sun every day. Amen.’

Photo by Claudia Raya on Unsplash
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.