Good morning everyone. I hope you are in better shape than I am. I feel like I was hit by a truck after yesterday's activities. However the school's award ceremony seemed to go well and it was a lot of fun acknowledging the strengths of the students.
This morning we leave Romans behind and we are going to jump over to 1 Corinthians. This is a difficult letter Paul had to write but sometimes leaders have to face difficult tasks. When everyone is growing spiritually and doing what they are suppose to do it is a joy to lead but often this is not the case. Later in the letter we will see that although Paul did what he had to do it weighed heavy on him. But before the difficulties Paul exposes his heart and shows how much he appreciates his brothers and sisters in Corinth:
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. vv. 4-9
If there are fellow believers in your life that seem to drive you crazy, take your example from Paul. You do not need any other reason to be thankful for them other than the fact that they are recipients of the same grace you have received. God has poured out into their lives the same things he has given you which means that he loves them just as he loves you. Surely you can find it in you to be thankful for them for no other reason than they demonstrate God's grace and love for the world to see.
Once you acknowledge this about your brothers and sisters then you actually begin to see them differently. The negative things that rub us wrong grow less and we begin to see the positive things about the person. Look at the words Paul used: "For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge." He continues, "you do not lack any spiritual gift". Every member of the Body of Christ has value, even if your personalities clash. But clashing personalities is no excuse for not recognizing a person's value. If we are able to take ourselves out of the picture long enough, we see their strengths, the grace God has given, the wonderful gifts they have received. When we realize their value our appreciation for them deepens.
We are told to speak words of encouragement to one another. It was Paul who the Holy Spirit inspired to speak those words to us and it is Paul who demonstrated it to us. Look at Paul's encouragement:
He will keep you strong to the end
so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ
who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord
God is faithful.
Do you notice something here? Paul doesn't puff them up to encourage them. He doesn't even really talk about them and their abilities at all. Paul encourages them by reminding them of God's promises and with God's character. If you try to encourage someone by pointing out their limited abilities and when you try to get them to believe in themselves they will eventually fail themselves. But when you encourage people with the promises of Jesus, that is a solid thing for them to stand on. When you encourage them by reminding them who God is then that encouragement will be there even in their failings. No, I am convinced the worse thing we can do is try to build a person up with themself. We need to build up their understanding and trust in God. That is the only way they will overcome.
I appreciate and love you because of what God is revealing in you.
He has gifted you with incredible gifts through the Spirit.
He will always keep you strong and will help you overcome every obstacle in your life.
He will keep you blameless (you can't but he will) on the Day of the Lord. He forgives everything you seek to have forgiven. Everything!
You are privileged to have an incredible relationship with Jesus. Yours is a rich fellowship. Don't listen to the enemy. Jesus loves you and wants to spend every day in rich fellowship with you.
One thing you can be absolutely sure about, God is faithful.
So now. let us stop looking to each others deficits and lift up each others strengths. Let us encourage one another. Allow me to give you three last references and I end with these:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 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. (Hebrews 10:24-25)