Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Encourage One Another

How can Christians encourage one other and build each other up? Let’s face it, there are a lot of things in life that work to tear us down. There are problems we face and failings in ourselves we may have to deal with. Even other Christians can sometimes tear us down by what they do. Now we cannot control the actions of others. But we can ask how we can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. 

We need to start by loving one another (1 Peter 4:8; John 13:34,35; Ephesians 5:1,2). But this is not always easy. Some people are hard to love. Some people are hard for us to love because of personality conflicts. Where do we get this kind of love? We need to start by remembering how has God loved us (1 John 4:7-19; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 2 Peter 1:9). As we remember how Christ has loved us, we are encouraged to love others the same way. This love means not looking down on others because they do not measure up to our standards (Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 4:1-3). We have nothing to be proud of, for we also are saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). And sometimes we just need to trust God to work in our lives to change our hearts toward people (2 Corinthians  3:18; Philippians 2:13; Galatians 5:16).

We also need to realize that we have something to contribute to help build up other believers (1 Peter 4:10,11; Romans 12:3-13; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Sometimes we can think we have nothing to contribute, but God says He has given us gifts to use to build up other believers. Now part of the problem is that He has given us all different gifts. It is easy sometimes to assume that if we do not have certain gifts or are not outgoing or lack some other character trait, we have nothing to contribute. But all contributions, even quiet, behind-the-scenes contributions, are important. And God has promised to work through us to accomplish His purpose (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Colossians 1:28,29).

We need to realize we are all people in process and are not there yet (Philippians 3:12-14; Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:14-25). Therefore, we need to overlook others imperfections (1 Peter 4:8; Ephesians 4:1-3; Colossians 3:12-14). Now there is a point where we need to correct people. But this should done with gentleness, with an eye to restoring the person involved (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Hebrews 12:12,13). But we need to be careful of holding people to a standard of perfection which neither we nor they, as fallen people in a fallen world, can live up to. If we are looking for a church full of perfect people, with no strains or struggles to get along, we should desert this quest and rather go out and look for the Loch Ness Monster. The Loch Ness Monster might exist.

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