Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On Being an Intentional Nice Guy (or Gal)

• But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:13)

• And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Heb 10:24)

• Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (1Thes. 5:11)

• Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (Romans 14:19)

What do these verses all have in common?

The common theme in these selected verses is of course, encouragement. Building someone up, being a source of strength that they can lean on and find refreshment and renewed strength of their own. To exhort, provoke or stir up toward good things, to edify and to comfort. I really like this definition of edify that I located in some old notes on this subject:

"the deliberate act of promoting growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness"

Any good parent knows that raising a healthy, well-balanced child requires that you invest a lot of encouragement into that child. Most parents I know, myself included, will sadly confess that they don't think they spent (or spend) nearly enough time being an encouragement to their children as much as they do being a task-master. It's a hard thing to admit that you have a critical streak in you a mile wide, but that is a fairly accurate description of myself, and I don't like it.

In looking at these verses today and in thinking and praying about this for a long time (several years ago I wrote about how I wish I were more of an encouraging personality, and how much this is a deep conviction of mine. Nothing has changed since then, it's still a great weight on my heart almost every day), I'm firmly convinced that we (Christian people) should be far more encouraging than we are. This is not to say that we shouldn't speak up when something needs speaking up about, but it is to say that we should be just as eager to speak up with a word of encouragement. This is a huge area of lack in my own life and I know it.

I considered some very practical ways that anyone can be encouraging, and a few seemed rather obvious

• A kind word of thanks or appreciation
• Sending a note or card with the same type of handwritten sentiment
• In the blog world, leaving a comment to say "thanks, that blessed me" - or words to that affect

I know how it feels to get a word of encouragement, and I have no problem admitting that it feels really good. In fact, it often comes a time when I'm feeling incredibly discouraged, and is often such a blessing it can make me cry. It really is like a balm to a wounded soul.

With that in mind, I wonder if my readers here would care to offer some ideas on how we can all be more encouraging? Simple yet impactful things we can all do (and do more often) towards building one another up?

I do look forward to your replies.

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