Cheered on by the Spirit by Deon Crafford
Philippians 2:1-3 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
This afternoon I spent an hour or two next to a cricket field where young 13 year olds were plying their trade. All through the time I was there, parents would be spurring on their youngsters to give a little bit extra, to concentrate a bit more, to run in faster and ultimately when one lost his wicket there too were the words of encouragement and motivation. This is how we’ve been woven together as human beings …. we have an almost constant need for encouragement if not recognition. We love being spurred on because it makes us believe that we are doing the right things or we are doing things right. We’re energised by encouragement and it gives us the confidence to proceed with what we’re doing or what we’ve planned. It is interesting to see how people use social media to source encouragement from others. “I am so excited to be speaking at this major conference event …..” followed by “You go girl!”, “Make it count”, “Wow, jealous!” and so forth. Even the most successful people need encouragement and to be told how smart they are.
Now imagine how much encouragement the early church needed. Here was a small number of believers who in the face of severe persecution, ridicule and rejection, needed to keep the faith for the church of God to spread across the world. They needed to be encouraged and spurred on and this is exactly what the apostles kept doing. Barnabas, Paul, Peter and others constantly strengthened others in the faith and made sure that the young church kept its eyes on Jesus and the prize of salvation and sanctification. They undertook arduous journeys, spoke bravely and courageously in the face of opposition and persecution and often ended up punished through beating or imprisonment, because they refused to depart from this path of encouraging the church. The rest as they say is history, one that we’re adding to every single day as we give live to the church.
We’re all called to be encouragers as contained in the Scriptures above. Encouragement makes people believe that they can do and achieve things previously thought not possible. It can make people overcome anxiety because they’re encouraged to pray to and trust God. Through encouragement people are able to look past or ignore their limitations and aim higher and further. And through encouragement it becomes possible to “find” God’s presence in my life as I am spurred on to greater knowledge of and intimacy with Him. It is tough though to be an encourager if I am not in a position of strength or victory. I cannot encourage someone if I have already decided to back down or give up. My encouragement comes from the Holy Spirit and also from people around me whom God has placed in my presence. As I feed of this spurring-on, may I be found to be a source of spiritual energy for the believer and the non-believer, where the image of a God of power and love looms large.
Love to all