Encourage One Another

"But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire....For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy." - 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 One of the great blessings and benefits of being part of a church body is being able stand together and encourage each other during trials and tribulations.  Think of the mighty prophet Elijah.  He demonstrated great feats of prophecy and leadership in the name of the Lord—and yet, when he isolated himself from other believers, he grew discouraged, depressed, and just wanted to quit the whole thing—even his life.

Can other members of the body of Christ be annoying, discouraging, and even hard to get along with? 

Do people sometimes do things that completely baffle you and make you question their faith and salvation?  Do you find yourself saying, can just anyone be a Christian?

I have known people who are difficult, overly sensitive, overly needy—you name it—who came through in times of need for others in ways that put me to shame.  Just when I think I have a right judge someone, I am humbled by the way God works through that person’s life.

Sometimes, like Elijah, we get so fed up with everything, that we just want to avoid people. 

They require way too much of us, so it’s easier to avoid or push them away.

Mike Mason describes the solution to this dilemma like this: “This is one problem Jesus came into the world to redress.  He let us crucify Him to show us how much we push everyone away, even the Son of God.  As the dust settled on Calvary, some of us realized what we were missing.  We realized how much we wanted love and how much He wanted us.  And so we invited Him to come back and live in our hearts...and something wonderful happened.  We began to wake up to how badly we’d been treating people and how much we missed each other.  We began to want one another with a deep, pure love. And so the church was born."

The apostle Paul was never ashamed of his love for his fellow Christians--even though he spent many years writing to correct their misguided ideas, exhorting them to higher standards, or even expressing his frustration when they wouldn’t listen.

But still he loved them, and he urges us to do likewise: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22, NIV).

Paul did not just tolerate others and their quirks. 

He had learned to genuinely love. What did he call his brothers and sisters in the verse above? “Our hope...crown of rejoicing...our glory and joy.” I have to ask myself. Is that how I look at the people around me?

[Photo: Marian Trinidad, CreationSwap]