Monday, January 5, 2009

Beacon Touchpaper #6: "Encouragement"

"...For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." (Rom 1.11-12)

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. " (Heb 10.24-25)

The New Year is traditionally the season when we reflect on the past and consider what we would like to see accomplished throughout the next 12 months. Many make New Year's resolutions each time the occasion arises, and usually the same ones too: "no more cigarettes", "read my Bible every day", "get out of debt", "go to the gym twice a week", "learn something new". The trouble with these resolutions is, of course, that they can be forgotten by the time February arrives, can't they? Goals are far more practical, and far more achievable: for example, you could aim to read your Bible twice a week for January, then add a day in February, and so on every successive month until you're feasting daily by June. It's realistic and it's practical.
But how often do we consider these things in light of other people? Most resolutions and goals can tend to be rather self-centred, can't they? It's usually for good reason, and if you make a habit of this kind of practice, then keep going... But this January, have a thought for your fellow brothers and sisters. We all need building up, we all need spurring on, we all need encouragement. The apostle Paul himself knew he had weaknesses as well as strengths and certainly recognised his need for being built up by his Christian family.

In writing to his beloved brothers and sisters in Rome, he is hungry for mutual encouragement right from the very start of his letter. He understands the importance of encouragement itself, not just the obvious specific gifts of hospitality, prophecy and so on, nor the specific roles of evangelists, pastors or apostles, as a vital building block for the church. ALL these things are vital, but they should all be used, not just as an end in themselves, but in ENCOURAGEMENT to build Christ's glorious church. He was an apostle, called by Christ to plant and oversee churches over a massive region, and yet he still desired to see mutual encouragement between himself and his Roman church family who are gifted in so many other different ways. Whatever your gifting, you have a role to play in stirring up your brothers and sisters to love and good works (Heb 10.24). Who and how will you encourage? And how do you want to be encouraged?

Make a goal to speak to that person or group of people this coming week!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2009’s going to be a cracker!!

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