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Encourager or Discourager-June 10, 2024

Are you an encourager or a discourager?

Monday Morning Devotion-June 10, 2024

Encourager or Discourager

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. … if a man's gift is encouraging let him encourage.     Romans 12: 6,8

*from June 2016

           In the 12th chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul instructs us about how to behave.  OK you may not want to hear this.  You may think, "Hey I'm a grown up.  I'm a Christian.  I don't need a lecture on how to behave.  Sure, I agree we need to teach our children how to behave so they can deal with worldly experiences, but I'm a grown up.  I'm past that."

Really?

Is your behavior always, in hindsight, just what you want it to be?  Do you ever have to second guess your actions?  Foolish questions, right?   Of course, we are not perfect.  Nobody is.

           We sometimes do, say or even think things we later regret.  Listen.  This is the voice of experience speaking.  Nobody is harder on me than me.

            Often the Lovely Susette has had to talk me out of being overly critical of myself in a situation that was, in hindsight, not critical.  And she views edit differently from the way I looked at it.  She is always encouraging which is what this devotion is about.  Encouragement vs. the opposite approach…discouragement.

            One of the reasons I lapse into that mentality at times, hopefully those occasions are rare and not the norm, is because of a gift I have.  You may have it too.  In fact, I believe it is one of the gifts of the Spirit that many people have and we are all able, to some extent, to develop it.

            I have always felt that the gift of encouragement is one that I have been given.  Sadly, it may be one of the more underused attributes that most people possess.  I really do believe that, to some extent, we all have the gift of encouragement.  It is a matter of using it and the more we use it the better we become at it. 

            In trying to understand and get better at using this gift of encouragement.  I researched it further (isn't the internet wonderful)?  Here is what I discovered: (www.gotquestions.org  "What is the gift of encouragement.)

            "The word translated 'encouragement or exhortation' is the Greek word paraklesis related to the word paraclete.  It basically means 'a call to one's side.' "

            "Paraklesis carries the idea of bringing someone closely alongside in order to exhort, urge, encourage, give joy and comfort to him or her.  All of these actions make up the gift of encouragement."

            "Interestingly, when Jesus conversed with His disciples on the night of His arrest, He spoke of the Holy Spirit as the 'Helper' or "Comforter' (John 14:16; 26:15-26) which is why the Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the 'Paraclete' the One who comes alongside to exhort and encourage us."

            There is a person in the Bible I'm sure you have heard of---Barnabas.  His name actually means 'son of encouragement' so there is no way he could not be an encourager .  And he was.

            The first big act of encouragement that Barnabas performed was to get Paul accepted.  As you know Paul had made this dramatic role reversal from a persecutor of Christians to an advocate for the Christian way and a follower of Christ.

            So, when Paul tried to join the disciples, they were a little leery of him.   In fact, they were all afraid of him when he came to Jerusalem and tried to join them. They knew his past history and didn't believe that he really had become a disciple.

            Here's where being an encourager plays a great role in history.  "Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.  He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord who had spoken to him and how Paul then had  started preaching fearlessly in the name of Jesus."

            Then in another major act of encouragement Barnabas rescued John Mark, who would eventually write the New Testament Gospel of Mark, after Paul had refused to give him a second chance because Mark deserted a previous missionary journey.

            What this act of encouragement amounted to was that Barnabas, a partner with Paul on previous missionary journeys, accepted and encouraged John Mark and together they formed a second missionary team.  That also opened the door for Paul to select Silas to work with him in spreading the gospel.  Thus, two missionary teams were out in the field working thanks to the encouragement and acceptance by Barnabas of a discouraged but talented person.

            Barnabas was able to see beyond the missteps made by another person and also the lack of acceptance by another.  This is sometimes the way the Lord works in our lives.  We may feel discouraged, frustrated, abandoned, let down by others.  Then God sends an encourager our way.

            This encourager may simply provide a kind word and a smile on a gloomy day.  He or she may offer to help or just to listen or to take time to talk.  Lifting up the spirits of another person is a great act of encouragement.  It is good for the recipient and great for the giver as well.

            There is a caveat here.  The Message says: "If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy."  Sometimes as an act of encouragement we may see a way out of a depressing or sticky situation another person is experiencing.  It may be the proper time to offer some advice.  But, the key here is to offer.  Not to insist that this is the way.  Just that this might be a solution.

            If the advice given is not acted upon the encourager should realize that the key thing is that you walked alongside the person in his or her trouble and showed a willingness to help.

            The great thing about being an encourager lies in the potential  it has for making both  the person giving and receiving feel happy.

            That is why the gift of encouragement is such a special gift.  It has the potential for everyone involved to come away happy.

Prayer:  Lord thank you for the gift of encouragement.  Help us to use it wisely and often.  Amen!

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