‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’ (v11) 1 Thessalonians 5:11–15
Clive Calver once wrote a book entitled, With a Church Like This, Who Needs Satan? A hard-hitting, perhaps slightly unfair title, but one that captures the shock many of us feel when discovering how much criticism there is within the Church.
This is not just aimed at those who might practise the historic Christian faith with some differences to our own preference but also refers to the criticism existing between members of the same church.
Jesus calls us to love, not criticise, one another. When I’m criticised, I react and often hit back verbally. However, if I am encouraged I am more likely to flourish and become more receptive to legitimate concerns about both character and behaviour.
That’s because encouragement builds our confidence. Barnabas comes alongside the outcast Saul, now renamed Paul, and encourages him. Consequently, one of the greatest witnesses to the Christian faith is enabled to realise his ministry.
I fear, looking back from eternity, we shall see many people who only realised a portion of their potential because they were subdued through the criticism of others where they might have flourished under encouragement. Jesus was a great encourager, as his post-resurrection breakfast with Peter revealed.
RELATED SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Psa. 23; John 21:15–23; Acts 4:32–37; 11:19–30.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: Encouragement is so much easier today. We can drop a text to someone, post a message on their social media presence or invite them out for a coffee. Set yourself a goal to encourage two people every week.
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, may I both receive encouragement and become a source of encouragement to others. Amen.’
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.
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