Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hiding behind encouragement ...

Take a moment to think about all of the miracles Jesus performed, which includes ...

... healing the official's son (John 4:46-54) ...

... casting out an evil spirit (Mark 1:23-26) ...

... healing Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15) ...

... healing a man of leprosy (Matthew 8:1-3) ...

... calming a storm (Matthew 8:23-26) ...

... raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:40-44) ...

... and many other miracles.

Now imagine what it would have been like if, instead of acting, Jesus only offered encouragement to the people involved.

All of us NEED encouragement, and we are exhorted in scripture to be encouragers ...

"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing," 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

But it can become easy to hide behind encouragement and fail to act. Please don't misunderstand the point: encouraging others is good, needed, and should be a regular part of our interaction with others. But when we're capable of doing more, encouragement is just the first step toward offering real action.

Our Christian culture is one loaded with a lot of encouragement, but short on action.

"What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions. Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well' --- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless," James 2:14-17.

Unless encouragement is ALL you have to offer, that last line could also read, "So you see, encouragement by itself isn't enough ..."

Do you try to hide behind encouragement so you won't have to act, to serve, to risk, to do something for someone else that will cost you? Or is encouragement just one step in how you respond with loving action toward others?

"I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you," John 13:15.

Scotty

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