Friday, October 23, 2009

Self-centered encouragement? Do you do it?

So, I wanted to take this time to delve in a little deeper and unfold a little bit of God's great kindness in teaching me obedience!

Remember me sharing how God was teaching me about how to listen to others, encourage them, and not be so self-centered... Well this is what I am talking about when I say God is using my church to gently correct my view of encouragement. Here is a list of three ways God has used his body to change my view on encouragement:

1. I saw encouragement played out in a biblical way.. An amazing lady in my care group shared with me a verse that she felt could really encourage me. "he (Jesus) learned obedience through what he suffered...(there is more obviously)" God is showing me that although I am suffering, and it is hard, real hard, God is so graciously teaching me, equipping and training me in righteousness, holiness. He is refining me into an image more like Christ's.

2. I was taught about encouragement... My church service was on encouragement. "Biblical encouragement is imparting and instilling courage to others for the fight of faith...It is Christ centered and embedded with Scripture." Ok, so what I am leaning about myself is that I view encouragement as me telling people what I have done (i.e. shared Jesus with three girls, had an amazing quiet time, etc...)and them being encouraged by my act of obedience. What I am finding is that while our works can be encouraging, for us to share about ourselves to encourage others is man-centered and laboriously vain. To encourage someone is to point out the Spirit's work in their life. Biblical encouragement is not false praise given selfishly to gain something in return. Sometimes, I think if I can conjure up something nice to say, or something complimentative, I will make Christ proud which will in turn place me in good standing with Him. What I view as encouragement is both shallow and flatter and has an outcome which causes people to fall. "A man who flatters his neighbors spreads a net for his feet." What is the outcome of biblical encouragement? "...only what is helpful for building others up...that it may benefit them..." We can either help to build up or tear down.

3. I actually tried encouraging someone... After the service, he asked everyone to put into practice what they had heard, so afterward, you can imagine what it was like... All across the church people were going to each other and encouraging one another. Well, I went to my husband, or should I say, he came to me first, said something about my life that encouraged him, and then... it was my turn... I must admit, it was really weird, even with my husband, the person who knows everything about me, my soul, my fears, etc... it was so weird to sit with him and pull out of his life works that I have seen from the Spirit that I have been so encouraged by... It was not that I didn't know what to say, I definitely had plenty to tell him, it was just that I am not used to encouraging people with their own life... I have always been me centered. I must say that encouragement is a discipline, and I do want to grow in it!!! I am so glad God is rooting out selfishness in my life!

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