I can go a good week and a half on a sincere compliment. No really – I mean flying high, feeling good, nothing can bring me down kind of happy reveling in knowing something I did really blessed someone or comforted them or they thought was just done well. I love when that happens!
My children love it, too. Yesterday, one of my younger kids did an absolutely outstanding job of cleaning the kitchen – it actually gleamed! I said (in front of other siblings) how pleased I was with the wonderful job that he had done – how he is really growing up and taking pleasure in his own good work – how thankful I was that he had done his best and had done a truly good and thorough job. I hugged him and as I did, he stood taller and straighter and he couldn’t stop grinning. He gleamed, too.
But if I’m really honest, I’m not generous about doing that for people on a regular basis – certainly not as generous as I could be. Once in a while I ask myself, “Self – just why are you so slow and stingy about giving out sincere and meaningful encouragement to others?”
I never have a very good response to my own question.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says this, “Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
I’ve read that a lot of times – I’ve memorized it. But I’m not very obedient – certainly not obedient enough to think that someone would rename me “The Encourager.”
But commands aren’t really optional, now, are they? If I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and yet I don’t do it, then its sin – isn’t it?
So how do I go about correcting this sin in my life? This sin of not offering thanks or encouragement or appreciation for the good things in the lives of those around me…
Shockingly (or not) I don’t have to look very far. The following verses in the same passage give us lots of instruction on that very thing:
“But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (italics added)
Did you catch that, too? Appreciate. Esteem. Live in peace. Admonish. Encourage. Help. Be patient. Always seek after that which is good. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.
I’ve told myself in the past to be mindful of opportunities that come along to show people appreciation, or to encourage, but I don’t think that’s really the right posture to take. It’s sort of been a “say thank you when you think of it” kind of attitude, and in light of the above, it just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Why, when it costs me absolutely nothing, do I tend to be so miserly with the treasure of words that would lift my husband or children or pastor or friends up? Why, when there are always ways to speak words of encouragement into someone else’s life, do I even want to withhold the plenty of which I possess? When God is pouring encouragement into my life – through his word and his people and circumstances – do I try to soak it all up for myself and not share it freely with those around me? I’m acting as if I believe that God himself will run out of words that lift me up and I will be left without enough. How foolish!
Please forgive me family and loved ones. And Lord, please forgive my selfish heart that would hoard even words to myself.
Rather than “being mindful” of opportunities that may present themselves, I believe I would better honor God and those around me if I create opportunities to encourage, appreciate, esteem. I know that when I do this, I am encouraged as well. I get my eyes off of myself and focus on the One who has filled my life with people who are faithful, and kind, and generous.
So, join me, won’t you, in not just noticing opportunities to build the people around you up, but in making those opportunities instead. I think, that just as my son brightened under the radiant warmth of sincere appreciation, we’ll find that we can be lights in many more dark places than we currently are. Let me know how it goes.