09 Sep Choosing Encouragement. Day #4 of “Where Do We Listen?”
Read Thessalonians 5:1-11
Thought for the Day: I can be an encourager to someone today.
When I was a senior in high school, I was asked to teach tennis and had a student who was the worst player I coached that summer. One day when her best friend Thora asked how she was doing, I told her, “She’s struggling and doesn’t seem to have any confidence. Nothing that I am doing seems to work.” Later, when Thora ran into her friend, she couldn’t remember exactly what he had said, and reported, “Stan says you are doing really well in tennis. I’m so proud of you for trying something new!” This word of encouragement completely changed her friend and she began to improve as a player. No one had ever encouraged her to be athletic in her life. Instead, they had always focused on what she couldn’t do athletically. By receiving encouragement from Thora, she was transformed and this changed her life for the better.
The Apostle Paul knew something about encouragement. After all, he had traveled for years with a man nicknamed Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’) and seen this encouragement change his life for the better. So, when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he encouraged them to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”. While the Thessalonians certainly had their share of challenges, they had an amazing strength: a bunch of Thora’s! And Paul knew that sometimes the best strategy is to simply build on our successes. Rather than telling them to try something new, he asked them to build on their positivity.
Living with the division and disappointment in our society, it may seem hard to be an encourager like Thora. However, it’s really not. If we look around, we see many examples of people being torn down but less of building up. Spend a few minutes on social media and you are much more likely to find division, grumbling, and sarcasm than anyone being a Thora. Instead of letting this bother us, we can see that God has given each of us the opportunity to be different and choose encouragement. After all, when it seems like everyone else is being negative, imagine how much of an impact small acts of encouragement can have.
Pastor Stan (and David)