Summary: Biblical basis for having a ministry of encouragement.
-Show Love, Don’t Grumble-
Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer.”
I Peter 4:8-9, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”
This summer two college boys traveled across the country handing out complements to everyone they met. Wherever they traveled they were interviewed by local news and even appeared on national news.
Why were they highlighted on the news? Because the natural tendency is to highlight bad news and focus on the negative things in life! In San Francisco and San Jose, CA. the when a handful of people marched the streets protesting whatever the protest made the evening news and a picture in the next days’ newspaper.
The tendency is to look at what’s wrong with people, the world, the church, rather than what’s right. Someone said: “10% of life is made up of what happens to you. 90% of life is made up of how you respond to what happens to you.”
The ministry of encouragement simply stated is this: “Believing the best about everyone you meet.”
Billy Graham in his book, Unto the Hills, writes: “Christ can take the discouragement and despondency out of our lives. He can put a spring in one’s step and give one a thrill in his heart and a purpose in his mind. Optimism and cheerfulness are products of knowing Christ.”
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22
In our retirement years one ministry we can all participate in is the ministry of encouragement – “Show love, Don’t Grumble.” Our ministry is to daily practice Psalm 19:14: “May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
What an opportunity Carollyn and I have in our family with four married children and now 17 grandchildren to practice the ministry of encouragement.
Let me suggest several ways we can enjoy a ministry of encouragement.
I. Don’t Dwell on the Past, Focus on the Future. Philippians 3:12-14
The devil, according to legend, once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly shaped tool, which was labeled “Not for sale.” Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.”
Focus on the lord Jesus Christ: remove your eyes from your situation and circumstances.
The Apostle Paul focused on the future. He said, “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Phil. 3:23
With the Apostle Paul we confess that we have not arrived, we continue to strive toward perfect love.
When you surrender your life to Jesus, it is your beginning. It’s like stepping on the first step on a long staircase. You keep walking up the stairs until you walk into the arms of Jesus. The stairs are not an escalator that carries you up without any effort; you have to move up step by step.
It takes the grace of God to forget the hurts of the past. Paul had many hurts to forget. He regretted leading the stoning of Stephen. He regretted causing havoc to the early church.
Has past experiences caused you to become bitter. Bitterness is unresolved anger turned inward. Bitterness becomes hate. Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness. Instead of sweetening everything in life, it sours everything in life.
It is only by the grace of God that you can forget the past. To dwell on the past or focus on the future is a choice we each have to make.
Colossians 2:1-2 “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,”
Colossians 4:7-8 “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.