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Religion

Upset Stomach

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted May 14, 2014

RELIGION – I read a neat story this week about discouragement. It told how “At the turn of the 20th century, the Boer republics were waging war in South Africa with the armies of the British Empire. During one protracted siege in the city of Ladysmith, a woeful citizen began wandering the streets, certain that doom was imminent, speaking demoralizing words to the soldiers. He never fired a shot for the enemy, but his discouragement was ultimately deemed a chargeable offense.

When brought before a court-martial judge, he was found guilty and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment. Discouraging others, it seemed, was against the law.” (Nancy DeMoss, A Quiet Place.)

What if discouraging someone was a crime? That is crazy to even ponder right? I mean some of us would just go silent as it seems that every word out of our mouths is a complaint lodged about something or someone. One of the most crucial things in the church and just in life in general are people who encourage! The apostle Paul frequently made reference to other people who had helped him in his ministry; he treasured their friendship and support. They were a “comfort” to him (Col. 4:11), translated from the Greek paregoria, from which we get our word “paregoric,” a medicine that soothes an upset stomach. There is nothing worse than an upset stomach! I don’t have to go in details, we have all been there! It is embarrassing, ruins plans, and leaves you wiped out, literally :). Stomach viruses isolate you from people and it take a few days to get over.  That is discouragement in a nutshell to me. This is how I feel when someone comes at me and tells me all the ways that I stink..

Furthermore, in the same way a stomach virus is contagious, discouragement is also. I am far more critical of others and prone to be a discourager when I myself have been discouraged. I pass it along to someone else. It is a very sad cycle that happens over and over in our town as people perpetually run off at the mouth.

Sadly this critical spirit is seemingly no different in the lives and mouths of people who attend church. But this should not be. William Barclay wrote that “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement… It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”
 
If you profess to be a Christian, encouraging others is not an option! Sure there are some people who may seem to be naturally gifted at encouraging and uplifting other people, but the Bible makes it clear that we’re all to be encouragers. According to Scripture, encouragement is to be a regular part of our interaction with other people. Thirtysome times in the New Testament, we read of things we are to do for “one another.” Be kind to one another. Love one another. Among them is the exhortation to “encourage one another” (Heb. 3:13). When we represent the “God of endurance and encouragement” in this way (Rom. 15:5), we actually become a channel of His grace to others.

Encouragers soothe and comfort our hearts, giving us new hope, energy, and confidence. We all love to be on the receiving end of encouragement. But we need to be on the giving end as well. G.K. Chesterton  wrote that “The really great man is the man who makes every man feel great.”  Think about who has refreshed your heart with their love and encouragement? How could God use you today to refresh the hearts the people in your life?

Pastor Phillip




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