Encouraging one Another
Over the past months my husband and I have attended quite a number of funeral services, most of which have been of fine Christian people who have had an influence on our lives, so although there was sadness at the loss we felt, there was also joy knowing that our friends are now with the Lord Whom they lived for and served.
The services were mostly of thanksgiving for lives well lived. At such services it is usual for tribute to be paid to the one who has ‘gone home’, making mention of what they did in their life, their family, their work and service, their achievements etc. Isn’t it sad that we often don’t praise and encourage people while they are with us, but wait until they have gone from this scene of time before we speak well of them and say how we appreciated their input into our lives? About eighteen months ago one of our church members died. She had left specific instructions with our Pastor that no-one was to speak of her, only of her Lord, Jesus Christ. She was a lovely lady and it was difficult to comply with her request but her wishes were carried out. Although nothing public was mentioned, most of us spoke of how her godly life had impacted others and ourselves in private conversation.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul pays tribute to the believers there, ‘We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (1: 2&3). Paul was a great encourager and he was concerned for God’s people to grow and develop spiritually. What an encouragement these words must have been to the Christians of Thessalonica. It obviously portrayed the way they were living out their faith. Faith, hope and love crop up time and again in Paul’s letters. He cared deeply for the churches and he longed for these qualities of faith, hope, and love to be evident in the lives of the believers. The Thessalonians were working, labouring and enduring and Paul does not hold back, but let’s them know how grateful he is to God for them and their works of service.
We all only have one life to live – how we live it is important, for that will determine where and how we will spend eternity. Could the words of Paul to the Thessalonians also be others words about us? This is something to think about seriously; often we are busy getting on with our lives that we don’t always realise the impact our lives have on others, and we are not aware of the glory that is given to God through a life that is lived for Him. One day, no matter what others may think of us, really only what will matter will be what God thinks of us, and how we have lived before Him. Paul thought highly of the Thessalonians and as he prayed for them He was able to thank God for them and this pleased God, I’m sure.
‘Your work produced by faith’ – our faith in the Lord Jesus will be seen in our lives by the work we do. The reason for our work is our faith. I’m sure we are familiar with James 2:26, as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’ Think for a moment on some of the great men and women of faith you have heard about or even perhaps know. What motivated them to do the work they do? Surely it was their faith in God which stimulated them into action. They showed their faith in their work. So our work ought to be the outworking of our faith – a work produced by faith.
‘Your labour prompted by love’ – our love for the Lord Jesus and for our fellow-men will be seen by our labour. Labour is not just work, it is exertion as we carry out that work; we put our back into it, working up a sweat, giving it all we’ve got. It’s as if our love is so great that we must labour for those we love, the Lord, and our brothers and sisters. Love then is our motivation to labour ‘in the vineyard’ so we may reap the harvest; for some it possibly will mean blood, sweat and tears but it will be worth it in the end. So our labour ought to be the outworking of our love – a labour prompted by love.
‘Your endurance inspired by hope’ – our hope in the Lord Jesus and in all He has promised us fills us with the will to persevere, even when times are tough and we find it very difficult to continue in our Christian life. We are enabled to keep before us the hope of seeing our Saviour’s in the flesh and of spending eternity with Him and that gives us the energy to endure. Our hope is not wishful thinking, but firm steadfast confidence in the Word of God, in the Lord, and in His return. That is our goal to which we are striving and it is a sure hope, enabling us to press on. So we endure to the end – our endurance inspired by hope.
Let’s look for these qualities in one another and let us pay tribute to one another by offering our encouragement. We do not necessarily seek approval from others but it is always encouraging to know that what we are doing is appreciated, is being done well, and is helpful to someone, so we ought to give credit when and where it is due. Encouragement can go a long way in enabling people to continue in their Christian walk and service. I think we in EBWU are great encouragers of one another so we must endeavour to continue, always giving thanks to God for the way He is at work in us, His children. I thank God for the way I have been encouraged whenever I have been among you and I trust that I too, am an encourager of others. As we wait for the Lord’s return let us each strive to produce work by our faith, prompt labour by our love and inspire endurance by our hope to the praise and glory of the Lord Jesus..
Margaret Brown, July 2009