Believers in Jesus. Followers of “the way.” Born again believers. Christians! We are to be built too. Paul knew first hand how important encouragement was and he was “build Jesus tough” by the encouragement of people who loved God, loved the ministry, and of course, loved Paul. Along the way Paul apparently had those who were jealous of him and took it upon themselves to put him down at every turn. Anyone who boldly serves Jesus is going to have their haters and those haters spin a good web of bad things. Those haters want only to keep people from following someone like Paul, when all along the way Paul is warning those in the churches he established to follow Jesus. Still the haters came after him and if not for some encouragers that God sent to Him, he might have failed. But Paul was “built Jesus tough.” Paul was proven, and the proof was in the pudding, and the pudding tasted awesome. What a great man. What a powerful witness. But Paul needed those who would spur him on to greatness and they came through. So when Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5: 11, those words had great strength and meaning. Here is the scripture Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. Encouragement is an amazing thing that God has given to all who know Him and His use of it to keep His called people moving forward is amazing.
Of course the opposite of encouragement is discouragement and that is another story in itself. Discouragement in a non-believer’s life causes their discouraging words to roll off their tongue so easily and does so much damage it cannot be measured. Discouragement in a Christians life is like a death sentence and those who wield that sword of discouragement should be careful lest they stop a movement of God. All Christians need encouragement to have the boldness that can impact a cynical and evil world, but so many believers have quit believing in encouragement and this great gift is seen less and less. Maybe this story will speak to the way to handle discouragement when it jumps on you.
The American painter, John Sargent, once painted a panel of roses that was highly praised by critics. It was a small picture, but it approached perfection. Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it. He considered it his best work and was very proud of it. Whenever he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, “I painted that.” Then his confidence and ability would come back to him.
Pastor Stephen Furtick tells of a word of discouragement that he turned into a good thing and also the title of a new book that he wrote.
Unqualified: That was John MacArthur’s one-word assessment of Steven Furtick during a Q&A session at the 2012 Shepherds’ Conference.
It’s also the title of Furtick’s latest book. Furtick credits that brief appraisal of his ministry as the inspiration for writing this:
“Unqualified.” . . . Unqualified?
That word started the wheels spinning in my head. . . . Yes, I struggle with my temper, with my focus, with my motives, with my eating habits, with my prayer life, with my state of mind. And that list doesn’t even scratch the surface.
I know my weaknesses and faults better than anyone. I don’t need to listen to an online interview to feel disqualified. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not seized by the sensation that I have no business doing what I’m doing. That I’m in over my head. That I don’t deserve any of my blessings or opportunities.
None of us are qualified for what we do, but through God’s strength and God’s grace we are able to minister and serve our Lord. It’s amazing what a little encouragement along the way will do for you. I have had people that God has injected into my faith walk that have believed in the Lord in my life and stood alongside me in ministry and encouraged me to greatness and they are precious people that I will forever honor and love. I have also had people that have injected themselves into my life and they, through jealousy and hatred, have made themselves a discouraging force in my faith walk. I have to dismiss their evil ways as, of the devil, and push on even though it hurts to hear their words. In my life, it is better for me to do like Pastor Furtick did to deal with John MacArthur’s opinion of him and use the discouragement as a means for encouraging me to trust in God’s strength and not my own.
Usually people don’t get to know me enough to know that I need constant encouragement and that it causes me to soar to heights beyond all reason. Those heights bring out ways that God has gifted me internally and those gifts come alive when I get that encouragement. Only someone who really cares would want those gifts to be seen. Someone hurtful or competitive with me would never realize what makes me tick. That is why we need to realize what turns a person’s crank and start cranking them up to greatness and the end result will be God moving in an extraordinary way. That kind of selflessness is very difficult for anyone to do, but the end result is a great thing. The person who is encouraging also needs to know that they will get their encouragement too. Paul wrote in Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus. Encouragement always give back to the encourager. ALWAYS!! Be that person. Be that encourager and you will be someone who helps someone else be “Built Jesus Tough.”
The Pilgrimage continues…..