Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thinking About Encouragement

Encouragement in the faith and encouragement generally cannot be built on statements we doubt. Differences of practice need not be reason for doubt between believers. We are as a universal Body of Christ aware of the great diversity of belief and practice among Christians. However, I am convinced there is only one faith in Jesus. There are, in contrast, various levels of maturity. The encouragement we might rightly offer others of different practice is to seek the Father. I do not expect anyone’s walk to look like mine in practice, yet I believe there is mutual understanding of what faith is and how it is lived, if we would humbly accept it lives beyond our man-made boundaries of religious practice.

Believers need to feel free to question anything in their own tradition when that is their need. Questioning practice of the group is not questioning the existence or authenticity of the Lord. Open discussion and mutual reflection is a benefit to us all.

We must trust in the mercy of our Father, and such trust is the basis of an authentic encouragement. I think there is no such thing as human objectivity, not in a pure sense anyway. Each of us is primarily subjective in all things. In my view, it is only as one opens to the in-dwelling Spirit of Christ that we partake of the Mind of Christ and touch truth. It is from a clear view of truth that we become strong in the ability to encourage others.

Encouragement is a key factor in one’s development as a Christian. We must beware, however, the voice calling to self-help for development as a better person. Becoming a better person is a siren’s call crashing one’s hope on rocks of discouragement. The old nature cannot be fixed. (And we all have the old nature.) For all us Christians, we must learn how to exist as our new creature through the depths of faith. It doesn’t happen by flipping switches. Rather, when people who share a significant past encourage one another, the established trust together on Christ opens individuals to the growth our heavenly Father guides.

This begs the question of whether or not Christians of varied backgrounds may develop a significant past. I say, love has no boundaries. Therein lies the true nature of encouragement. It meets its intended use from God when we are encouraging one another from a position of trusted love toward a deepening of the love which is from God. In contrast, encouraging one another to a better, more sophisticated humanity is nothing but empty humanism, the great lie of Lucifer to lift himself to be God’s equal.

Do you practice your faith in a different manner than I? No matter, love between us and for God together will flourish if we but seek to lift each other up into the light of Jesus.


Terry said...

Encouragement has no culture of its own—therefore it transcends Christian doctrine and political affiliation.

When I add to your life, my payback is almost immediate and invigorating—truly what we give away we get the most.

Sandi and I had a couple over for dinner last week—a couple that we see often but do not normally run in all the same circles. After they left, my wife said that this couple provided some of the best conversations and spiritual interchanges of all the people we know.

I rest my case.

ded said...


Thanks for the real life example of something I was attempting to describe.

I think Christians find their spiritual lives more satisfying when giving away love and its companion, encouragement, without hesitation in the face of social constructs.

It is easier said than done perhaps, but nonetheless real.

Josiah said...

In your previous post you mentioned that love can at times be selfish. Last week I came across six or seven people warning that love, spirituality, religion, and conversion can be used as a means to lift up the self rather than worship God. I think God has been warning me to focus on him with genuiness. This is now the other side- the encouragement not to worry about if something looks like the love, truth, spirituality we are used to. The encouragement to press on in the Holiness of heart in its manifold beauty.

careyrowland said...

ded, you wrote this and I'm with you on it: " when people who share a significant past encourage one another, the established trust together on Christ opens individuals to the growth our heavenly Father guides." Yes and Amen.
However, since you said early in the post, "Believers need to feel free to question anything...", I'm taking a close look at your ending on this one: "...encouraging one another to a better, more sophisticated humanity is nothing but empty humanism, the great lie of Lucifer to lift himself to be God’s equal." This seems a little heavy-handed to me, maybe even dogmatic. In the interest of those folks out there who have yet to join our believing ranks, is there more explanation that can be offered about this?
Thanks for all you do. As a member of humanity, I encourage you to continue in all that the Lord has set forth as your life's work.
CR, author of Glass half-Full

ded said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ded said...


God is faithful to complete His work. If we seek Him, we shall find...that finding will include the understandings of where our selfishness masquerades as love. I agree with you, we need not worry over this. God's climate for us is exactly what we need for growth. We simply need to be willing to move in repentance and fullness of trust when we become convicted over any issue.


By all means, ask! Even disagree as you see fit. The shared reflection is more profitable than the silent and personal.

I'm not sure what you mean by "heavy handed." Any given blog post raises questions; it is the nature of the beast.

(If my stat counter is accurate, there are few out there reading this little blog, so we need not worry about clouding up the understanding of the masses!!)

All that said, I was attempting the point that much effort is sometimes given by lost and redeemed alike in trying to improve the self. Since this blog is intended as a place to air my thoughts on any topic, but I usually reflect on the Christian's experience, I wasn't directing the idea toward the lost but to the Christian.

I think the idea that self-improvement exists among us Christians and such is selfishly motivated for self-righteous reasons other than giving God glory needs consideration. However, I do not bring it up intending to fling condemnation. I see it this as a self-awareness stepping stone one must cross to enter into the fullness of spirit life. ("journey" lingo again! paradoxes-sigh) My intention was an encouragement simply to be aware and beware those who reduce Christianity to humanitarian altruism by one's old nature as a process that brings holiness by good works. Is altruism bad? No, but trusting it as evidence of our worth is.

Dogmatic? Am I asserting opinions in a doctrinaire or arrogant manner? I hope not and apologize if I came across that way. Am I opinionated.? Perhaps. Help me here. How do I express my thinking, which always reduces at some level to nothing but my opinion, without coming across as opinionated?

I assert (albeit by implication and not clearly stated in the post) a total reliance on the in-dwelling Christ is our only hope. I can encourage nothing less even as I am not the best example of always doing such.

ded said...


In re-reading both the post, your comment, and my response maybe I missed your concern completely.

Perhaps your question is more about my statement In contrast, encouraging one another to a better, more sophisticated humanity is nothing but empty humanism, the great lie of Lucifer to lift himself to be God’s equal.

hmmm...Well, it is my opinion that humanism is the cultural function we can trace throughout western thought, which is fundamentally worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. Humans so desperately want to be considered valuable, but want it without the cross. I guess that does sound a bit dogmatic, but that is my opinion!!

careyrowland said...

I'm tracking with you now. I think that what set my buzzer of was the presence of "encouragement" and "the great lie of Lucifer" in the same sentence.
Encouragement is a component of God's koinoneia for building up faith, whereas Lucifer's humanistic lie to men is an attempt to remove God from the picture. Those two things are pretty far apart; I'm not accustomed to seeing them linked in the same grammatical yoke.
You just keep doing what you're doing.