Summary: To show how we are good encouragers when, from pure motives we deliberately give the message that truly encourages
Introduction - Story - Norman Vincent Peale - "Once walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, I came upon a tattoo studio. In the window were displayed samples of the tattoos available. On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever. But what struck me with force were 3 words that could be tattooed on one's flesh, "Born to lose."
I entered the shop in astonishment and, pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, "Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, 'Born to lose,’ tattooed on his body?"
He replied, "Yes, sometimes."
"But," I said, "I just can't believe that anyone in his right mind would do that."
The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English, "Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind."
What a powerful statement! Before tattooed on body, tattooed on mind! True! Before you start to see in people the externals of fatigue and frowns and negativity and angry words and introversion, on the inside already there has been an uninvited visit by one of man’s greatest enemies: discouragement.
Before Eeyore ever said, "Not that it matters anyway or that anyone cares...." that depressed donkey from Winney the Pooh fame was somehow discouraged, and it became a way of life for him.
Know what? I’ve met a lot of Eeyores! I’ve met a lot of people who have taken up discouragement as a lifestyle.
Gerrie: Boy, this sermon’s just in time. I’m not sure how much longer I can take living with Eeyore!
Fred: Not that it matters, but were you talking about me? What makes you say that?
Gerrie: Oh, I don’t know – maybe it was the way you were singing “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” this morning in the shower.
Fred: Well, has it ever occurred to you that maybe I was a little down?
Gerrie: A little down? If you were any more “down” you’d be qualified to fill a feather bed! Has it ever occurred to you how hard it can be to be around someone who’s so discouraged? I’ve even noticed the cat doesn’t want to be around you lately!
Fred: Well, maybe if you’d pay attention this morning, you could help me.
Gerrie: I guess you’re right. I suppose if I’m ever going to survive your gloominess I’m going to need some help. There’s one reason to listen anyway!
There’s a need for encouragement out there, Amen? Why else would the Bible have so much to say about it?
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
These are commands for us to be good encouragers.
Think about it with me, and how it works in the Church...
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve visited someone sick and all around the room there are cards, flowers, beenie babies, you name it – all sent by people from the church family. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve visited the hospital and a sick person will tell me, “Oh, there have been several people here today already!” (Maybe that’s a hint for me to leave sooner!). And something is obvious about those visits – they’ve encouraged somebody.
A man’s afraid. Someone said he was afraid to become a Christian. It is scary, but a few words of encouragement from someone who knows what that fear is like, and he makes the decision to accept Jesus. That’s not just some made-up story. It’s the kind of true story that’s the story of people sitting around you!
I want you to leave this morning being a better encourager than you were when you walked in. Let me encourage you to do that, will you? And, once again, let’s get it done by looking into the encouraging letter that Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, I Thessalonians, ch. 2.
I want you to see with me that encouragement comes with “some assembly required.” It has a few parts, and we’re going to look over the instructions this morning to see if we can it put together in ourselves before we get out those doors.
The first part is…
I. Pure Motives
Story - There have been periods of time in my life when I must have been very discouraged and the word got out because I would get phone calls. People would call me up – people I don’t even know, just to encourage me. Yep, I’ve had a lot of encouragement over the phone: