Summary: Build others up by affirming what God has given and assuring what God can do.
The topic today is about showing confidence in people – to encourage them to better themselves.
• Paul showed confidence in young Timothy, who was probably in his 20s and leading a ministry. He needed encouragement and Paul gave him just that.
• All of us need that. We need someone to spur us on in our walk with God.
• And we need to do that for others. 1 Thess 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
We don’t usually do that actively. We react to needs around us. Only when we see someone struggling do we come by and support him.
• We can learn to be more proactive in giving support and encouragement, not just when they are needed but something we give constantly, as part of our lifestyle.
Let’s turn to 2 Tim 1. Before we read, let me give you some background.
• This was Paul’s final book, and many consider it as his “last will and testament”; his last words.
• He wrote it while in prison in Rome; he was in chains (1:16) and he knows that his end will come soon (4:16).
• Christians were under persecution by Emperor Nero. Many did not dare to confess Christ openly, and there were desertions.
1:15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
4:9-10 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
4:14-15 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
It was a difficult environment, but Paul being more matured, experienced and seasoned in ministry, wanted to encourage Timothy to stay strong and faithful.
• Let’s read – 2 Tim 1:3-14.
Paul voiced out his confidence in Timothy in at least 2 areas - his “sincere faith” (v.5) and “the gift of God” in him (v.6).
• V.5 “I saw that faith in your grandmother, then your mother, and now in you.”
• V.6 “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” What exactly is this gift we do not know, but there’s surely a God-given deposit in his life and Paul knows it.
So how can we build one another up?
(1) AFFIRM WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN
Most of the time, we don’t see that in ourselves. Others can see that in us.
• We need to affirm one another when we see the gifts God has given us. And He has given, according to the Scripture.
• So we want to affirm what God has given to each one of us. We are inspired and encouraged through affirmations.
• Be proactive in giving that and let’s remind one another of what God has given us.
• To do that, we need to FOCUS on what God has blessed us with, not our failures or weaknesses. Look at the GOOD in others and affirm them!
[In the book ‘The 360-degree Leader’]
John Maxwell, a famous author and writer of many books on leadership, shared that once he was visiting his parents and needed to make a conference call. He needed a quiet place and his father let him use his office.
As he sat at his desk, he noticed a card next to the phone with these words written in his father’s handwriting: “#1 Build people up by encouragement. #2 Give people credit by acknowledgement. #3 Give people recognition by gratitude.”
John Maxwell said, “I knew why it was there. My father had written it to remind him of how he was to treat people as he spoke to the phone with them.”
Look at the good in others and affirm them. Catch them when they are doing right and tell them so.
• See the potential in people because God has made them unique and given them gifts.
Notice Paul did not compare Timothy to anyone else, not even to himself.
• Paul has the maturity, the experience and even the knowledge to set himself the standard for Timothy. But he simply told him what he saw in him.
• We don’t have to compare with others, or even try to compete with them. We just need to appreciate God’s calling in their lives and affirm them.
• Paul is saying, “I believe in you. I believe you can do well, because God has given you the sincere faith and His gift.”
It’s easy to recognise great talent once people have already blossomed, but how about before they become full bloom, before they are developed?