Encourage one another
Every election season, we are bombarded with negative campaign ads. They can drive you nuts! Not only that, they can get your blood boiling, make you angry and cause you to start spewing. As Believers, we want to offer enthusiastic support for candidates who embrace our Biblical values; but we always want to do that in a way that honors God. We also must be very careful to not let the negativism, that politics tends to breed, infiltrate our relationships. Politics are divisive by nature and as Believers we want to be united. Over the next month, and possibly longer, we have a chance to model unity, not division. Division destroys relationships.
In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul addressed a disagreement that was causing division among Believers. It wasn’t politics; it was food! Can you believe that?! They weren’t arguing over who made the best broccoli casserole, chicken pie or pound cake - all covered dish favorites; but rather, they were concerned about serving and consuming food that was considered by some to be “unclean” and therefore sinful. Paul knew that this conflict was causing division in the church and it was disrupting the work, the focus, and the unity of the church. He wanted to address it head on and get the church focused on what mattered most… at Watermark, we would say “making an impression and leaving a mark for Jesus Christ!”
In Romans 14:13, we learn that passing judgment on one another is counter productive. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. Romans 14:13. Paul was saying that judging each other over food is not what Believers are all about… it was a distraction, keeping them from what really matters!
One of the devil’s favorite tools is division. If he can create division in a church, he wins. But this truth applies to every significant relationship in our lives. If the devil can create division in your family, in your marriage, even in your workplace and friendships, he wins because that conflict will get you down and take you out.
Judging one another, being hyper-critical, sharing harsh opinions causes serious division, creates conflict and destroys relationships. That can happen in a family of Believers and when it does it is like an infection. But that can also happen in your marriage; when spouses get hyper-critical and harsh toward one another, the relationship will break down. That is why the Bible tells husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands! (Ephesian 5). It is why Jesus commanded His disciples to “love one another” and to be identified by that love. (John 13:34-35)
Relationships sink when we begin judging one another; but they soar when we start encouraging one another! Paul knew that for the church in Rome to survive and thrive for Christ’s sake, relationships had to be strong, healthy, and fully united. They had to stop tearing each other down because passing judgement on one another is counter productive, but, building up one another is far more constructive.
In Romans 14:19, Paul wrote, 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Romans 14:19. We all want peace in our lives don’t we? I rarely come across someone who says, “I love conflict; I enjoy chaos; I long for crisis in my life!” If I meet someone like that, I wouldn’t walk away from them, I would run! Who wants to hang out with someone like that?!
The truth is, the vast majority of people don’t want to live in conflict, they want to live in peace! We long for peace and we need it in our lives. So what is the silver bullet for experiencing peace? Encouragement! Seems like a simple answer doesn’t it? Simple, but so true! Encouragement builds up and leads to peace in relationships!
Are you pursuing what leads to peace in your relationships? Are you steering clear of harsh, critical judgement? Are you focused on building others up?
How can I build others up? Be a constructor, not a destructor! When my youngest son Brennan was a toddler, my wife called him affectionately Destroyo because he could tear anything up in an instant! Kids can be like that, until they are taught not to destroy things! We also must be taught not to destroy people. And nothing destroys people faster than harmful and hurtful words. Someone said “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Do you believe that?
The truth is that words can hurt; in fact, words can destroy a person. That is why the Bible clearly says: 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, (Ephesians 4:29a). In other words, avoid using poisonous language toward one another. Unwholesome, poisonous words inflict serious and lasting pain. They can cause discouragement, disillusionment and depression, all of which paralyze us in life and can destroy our ability to make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ!
So instead, use encouraging words to build up one another…. but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29b.). Are your words helpful or hurtful? Are your words beneficial or harmful? What will it look like to use words that are helpful and beneficial in all your relationships this week? Encourage one another!
The Bible teaches that building one another up also means to comfort in times of need. To do that, use God’s Word to offer encouragement to one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:18). God’s Word is full of encouraging truths. When someone is in need, the best way to offer comfort and encouragement is not with well meaning, but meaningless words; instead use the encouraging, inspiring, life-changing Word of God. (Romans 15:4)
Here are seven passages that always offer comfort and encouragement… read them and be encouraged today… use them to encourage one another:
When in need of forgiveness - 1 John 1:9
When in need of courage… Deuteronomy 31:8
When in need of hope… Romans 15:13
When in need of peace…. John 14:27
When in need of assurance… Romans 8:28
When in need of strength… Psalm 27:1
When in need of comfort… Psalm 23
In these trying times, let’s be about the ministry of encouragement! God knows, people need it. For much more, click here to watch One Another - Part 6 - Build One Another Up.