Comforting Encouragement – Part 2

Just as we all express encouragement differently, so also, encouragement is perceived differently from person to person. What may seem amazing to one person, may not even register with another. Therefore, thoughtful grace needs to be operating in all believers to compensate for and enhance the learning process of how to express and receive encouragement appropriately. Personal history, personality, culture, health, and maturity are some of the key players in the business of encouragement. Plus, its grace that elevates encouragement to the level of comfort, but only if it is received. While our hearts are remarkably sensitive at receiving, they are not always so delicate at expressing compassionate sentiments. Both the giver and the receiver share equal responsibility in the ministry of encouragement.

Included in Paul’s relational teaching to the church in Rome, He instructed them to give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all (Romans 12:17-18). Here, Paul is saying that believers are to consider the different ways we express honour to different people as all people will perceive honour differently. Also, we are to do our best to express and receive other’s attempts to show us honour with a peaceful attitude. This speaks to the matter of not allowing ourselves to take offence when no offence was intended. It thinks the best of the other person. That’s grace.

With the concept of grace in our thinking, Romans 15:5-7 takes on a fresh dimension. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Christ welcomes us with the listening grace of acceptance, of preforgiveness, in full knowledge of all our shortcomings and failings. Just as Christ glorifies God by welcoming us with such grace, so also, we glorify God when we welcome others likewise. God is by nature the God of endurance and encouragement, and endurance is greatly fuelled by the strength that comes through encouragement, whether we are receiving or expressing it.

As we learnt from 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are to encourage one another and build one another up, which is the graceful purpose that should be intentional. But I suggest, that listening to and receiving those words or actions of encouragement should be received for the purpose of being built up yourself, which is graceful listening. Again, this thinks the best of the other person. Grace!

In Acts 14:22, Paul was strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. What a wonderful and realistic example Paul leaves us. He did not hide from the difficult realities of the Christian life, and he also highlights the resource of strength that comes through encouraging… to continue in the faith. Often, pain follows us as we enter and live in this stage of God’s Kingdom, and the human expression of encouraging one another to remain faithful is critical to our spiritual sanity. We also do this by 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 (Hebrews 10:25).

As we perceive the closeness of Christ’s return to snatch up His bride, so we should be motivated to do and receive encouragement in an attitude of grace, for God’s glory.

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