Be Kind: We’re All in a Battle.
My first two posts on Encourage and Equip were designed to lay a foundation for why we need encouragers so much in our day (Why Pt. 1, Why Pt. 2). However, there is one area I really wanted to write about because it is so critical. But, I wasn’t sure people were ready to receive the message. I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate the message clearly without sounding like an alarmist, a religious nut or fanatic.
At the very core of my being, my heart cries out that the reason we need to encourage people is that we are all in a battle. Most people don’t even realize it. Those who are aware of the battle tend to underestimate the opposition–It’s much more than a pillow fight!
At the heart of my thinking on encouragement are two passages from the Bible. One passage is Hebrews 10:19-25, in which the author urges believers to draw near to God, to not give up meeting together and (when we do come together) to consider how to encourage one another. (We’ll look closer at this passage in future posts.)
In today’s passage, the Apostle John presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It’s a favorite Bible passage for many people. Coupled with Psalm 23, it provides great imagery of Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulders or of a flock of sheep following his lead. In the passage, Jesus’ dedication and commitment, to the point of death, are clearly set apart from all who came before him—impostors, false teachers and hired hands. As the passage develops, Jesus contrasts Himself with the ultimate false teacher.
In John 10:10, Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). Having grown up as a city kid and a pretty concrete thinker, I always interpreted this purely literally. The fact that my house was broken into three separate times probably played a part as well. I imagined the thief coming to steal, kill and destroy material possessions. But when you consider the contrast of what Jesus says he came to offer, it becomes clear that we are actually talking about a quality of life issue rather than protection of possessions. Jesus didn’t say that he would give material possessions and life rather, that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” The New Century Version adds ‘…life in all its fullness.”
As I understand Jesus’ words, I see two supernatural powers at work—not equal, but both supernatural. One is constantly at work to build people up and give a life worth living. The other is constantly at work to tear people down and rob any sense of joy or purpose from our lives—the ultimate battle of good vs. evil.
I plan to revisit this topic and both of these Bible passages in future posts—there is much more beneath the surface reading. For now, I’d just like to highlight the fact that God frequently reminds us that we are in a battle AND that He wants us to use us to (among other things) encourage one another.
In the upcoming posts, we will see the nature of the battle and power of encouragement. We’ll see that it goes beyond mere complements to touch the very heart and soul of those around us. We’ll also see how we can be part of the solution and resist the quicksand of aiding and abetting the enemy.
This is just an introduction to the topic. Please consider subscribing to be sure you don’t miss the upcoming posts on the topic. Your life and the lives of those around you will be better for it. I know that’s a big claim, but I am more convinced than ever of the need for and the value of encouragement in our day.
How about you? Have you seen the power of encouragement in your own life? What has been the most encouraging thing someone has done for you?
(Photo credit: [ File # csp13969785, License # 2730552 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / mr_Brightside)