Friday, 9 November 2012

Build-upper or tear-downer

When Robert was about to finish his studies for the ministry, we were invited to sit on a panel for a Youth Meeting - a "Mr and Mrs" of sorts.  We were asked various questions about ourselves.  I can't remember much about it all, but I remember that we were on the panel with a godly couple who had been in the ministry for many years.  The opposite end of things from us, if you may.

They were asked to give us advice as we entered into this service for the Lord.  I can't tell you what Mr Begg's advice to Robert was, but I can remember what Mrs Beggs said to me.

"Encourage Robert.  Precious few others will do so in his ministry, and you must make sure that you are his encourager.  He will need it. " (that is not a verbatim quote - just the general idea...I have an awful memory for exact quotes...)

That has stuck with me ever since.  Those words, at least.  I have tried very hard, regarding his ministry, that I am an encourager.  I don't pick apart his sermons - I don't highlight his weaknesses - I am not negative - I don't complain about his content or the length of time he preached for.  It's true - plenty others do those things, and he doesn't need me adding to it all.  The devil uses God's people to be a discouragement - often.

Encouraging someone will build them up.  It will help them to be comforted in their labours for the Lord.

Being negative and critical tears them down.  It makes them sad, worried and anxious in their Christian walk and life.

The thing is, as much as I try and do it in his role as a pastor, I seem to forget to put it into practice the rest of the time.  Being a wife who is positive and encouraging should be something I try and do all the time.  I know *I* like to hear words of encouragement, but I don't give them out in the same measure as I expect to receive them!

Likewise, as a mother.  it's SO easy to hand out the negative.

"Don't do that"

"Why are you doing that?"

"I've told you a hundred times not to...."

"When will you learn that you shouldn't..."

It takes a lot more work and effort - a lot more time and thought - to give encouragement.  Sometimes it's outright HARD, because we seem to pick up on the negative so very easily - we see the bad, and don't immediately see the good!  How sinful our hearts are that we have to LOOK for good, instead of seeing it before anything else.

When you think about it, the very essence of consoling and comforting someone -  to encourage them - implies that the other person feels down or discouraged about something.  The point of us encouraging is to lift them up in their spirits.  To do what we can to comfort and console them.  Basically, to give them courage.  To make them feel strong again.

We are all human.  God gave us our humanity.  God KNOWS our humanity.  The Lord Jesus took upon flesh, and lived an earthly life.  He understands our frailty and remembers we are dust.  It is BECAUSE of this, that we are given instruction about giving encouragement to others.  To build the up.  NOT tear them down.

"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another" 
I Thessalonians 5:11

The word in Thessalonians "edify", literally means "house builder".

Those around us are like houses.  If you build them up properly, they will stay standing through all sorts of onslaught.  All kinds of bad weather, attack from the outside, earthquakes.  The best built houses withstand even the harshest of conditions.

Of course, as with any house, it starts with being built on the good foundations.  So, this principle is especially true of those who love the Lord.  We need to train up our children in the truths of God's work, to prepare their heart for the Spirit's work.

That aside, we still must be encouragers, whether our children, or those around us, have made a profession of faith.  We don't want to tear others down with our words or behaviour - we want to be builders, not demolishers!

How should we BE that encourager  though?

Well, for a start, the words that come out of our mouth have SO much power.  The book of Proverbs has a LOT to say about our tongue, and how we speak to others.

"There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health."
Proverbs 12:18

"A wholesome (or healing) tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness (or visciousness) therein is a breach in the spirit." 
Proverbs 15:4

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue"
Proverbs 18:21

Do you see how it talks of the tongue in relation to HEALTH? How we can heal by the words we use?

You think of a small child, who is hurt or worried.  We talk to them in a way that will soothe and comfort them - to make them feel like everything is ok.

The same applies to life in general.  We will encourage by the words we use, and HOW we say them.  We will give them health in their hearts, by how we speak to them, and by what we say. 

" A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."
Proverbs 15:1

Oh BOY do I ever find this one hard!  I see other Mums who are so gentle, and here's me struggling to keep calm and use soft words.   If there ever was a verse for me, on bad days,  on most days, it's THIS one. *blush*

The other one I need to be careful with, is sarcasm.  Scots are cursed with the ability to be sarcastic.  I don't think it's appreciated much by my English cohorts, and I must be careful to not use it so much.  We take it as humour in Scotland, but I think it can be offensive down here - people consider it as being condescending, not funny. 

We all know our own hearts and lives, and in what way we need to alter our words and how we say them.

This next verse, in Ephesians, highlights the responsibility we particularly have, regarding the words we use.

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4:29

  This then tells us what we SHOULD say.  We need to speak words that will build others up.  That will help them feel better, and stronger - not worse and weaker.   This verse says that they should minister grace to those that hear them.  This means that the hearer will be grateful for what you have said. 

So, how can we encourage our husbands today?

We can thank them for their love.

We can thank them for their provision of a income.

We can thank them for their help in the home.

We can thank them for taking on responsibilities so that we don't have to.

We can thank them for the things they do for us that make us feel loved and appreciated.

We can thank them for SO many things.  I am sure you can think of things that apply to your own circumstances.

In what ways could we thank them?

With our words.

With actions - leave a note, do something nice for them that they will appreciate, buy them a small gift, make something for them - food usually works - give them some extra "lovin'" (*winks*).

How about our children?

We can praise them for a job well done, even when they think they have not done so well.

We can encourage good behaviour.

We can speak to them gently when rebuking and teaching them.

We can be patient with them, even when we feel frustrated.

There are many others who we can encourage, outside of our home. Extended family, friends, our Church family especially,  and even strangers!  Those who are ill, those who feel low, those who are discouraged by circumstances, those who feel they are not doing a good job of being a wife or mother, those who have needs.  SO many ways and people who we can reach out to today.

Even better, we can teach our children to be encouragers, too!  Help them to find ways to encourage those around them - starting at home first.  Doing little things for others.  Being kind in how they speak to each other.  Helping those in need.

So, do it today!  Find someone to encourage! Don't be weary in well-doing - keep at it, even when it's HARD (says the woman who struggles in SO many ways....).

And, more importantly than anything else...start at HOME.

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