The Hard Work of Encouragement

May 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical farming, Hebrews | 6 Comments
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Hebrews Chapter 6 is a good reminder to Christians to “grow up.” It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for new believers to start off their Christian life as spiritual children. But there should come a point in time when every believer begins to mature. And, even beyond that, there should come a time when mature believers are actually aiding immature believers in the growth process.

Proper growth comes about from:

1. Feeding (on the Word of God)
2. Exercise (getting involved in Christian ministry or service)
3. Instruction (heeding warnings to stay away from what is dangerous)

I believe God is pleased when we show love and encouragement to new believers. First of all, it is the right thing to do. Second, it stimulates growth.

In order to encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Romans 2:21

If the people you are ministering to start to outgrow you spiritually, that is not the ideal situation. One solution for this is staying grounded in the Word of God. When you encourage someone, encourage them from the Word. Experiences can be good, but the standard by which we judge our experiences is the Bible. Study your Bible.

When you minister to immature believers it is also important to find out where their interests lie. If possible, find out what’s going on at their homes. This is especially true with children.

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 20:11-12

God gave us eyes and ears not just to entertain ourselves, but so we can observe who needs to be encouraged, and then do it.

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;

Proverbs 24:30

The “slothful” is like a farmer who is too lazy to work the field God has given him. He is purposely ignorant, willfully ignoring the vineyard.

And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.

Proverbs 24:31

The vines are not growing like they are supposed to because of all the useless weeds that have come up and stolen the nutrients that should be causing good fruit to grow. The wall around the vineyard is no longer in a condition to stop wild animals or vandals from coming in and destroying the crop.

Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Proverbs 24:32-33

The farmer says that he will get around to it after he’s a little more rested – after his schedule clears up.

So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.

Proverbs 24:34

The lazy farmer will be robbed of his opportunity.

If you have been a Christian for a while, God has put you in a position to encourage someone. You have an opportunity to build someone up – to keep the fences of protection mended, to stimulate growth in someone, to feed someone, to pull out the weeds and thorns, to get in on the job of raising up mature Christians.

We’re not going to be able to do that if we don’t encourage them. And we won’t be able to do it by just checking in with them for one hour on Sundays. We’re going to have to call, to send cards, to invite them to activities, to visit them when they’re sick. Immature Christians tend to, for good or ill, base what they think about the Lord on what they think about other Christians. If I’m always late for church, I’m sending a message to someone that church is just not all that important to me. If I don’t know some basic truths from the Bible, I’m sending a message that preparing to live out God’s Word is not that important to me. If I only speak to my Christian friends on Sunday morning at church, I’m sending the message that I am only pretending to care about them.

Let’s strive to encourage other Christians, especially new ones.

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