The Hope of Encouragement

May 7, 2020

Romans 15:4-6

(4)  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (5)  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, (6)  that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday we talked about the encouragement ratio and I said the national average of encouragement to criticisms was one to six. Then I encouraged you to discover your own encouragement ratio. How did you do with that?

Sometimes we think we are being encouraging but the things we say are really “backhanded compliments.” What’s a backhanded compliment? When you say “You don’t sweat much for a fat guy,” that’s a backhanded compliment. “You’re so lucky you don’t have to worry about men/women only liking you for your looks” is not really a compliment. “I’m surprised you figured that out so quickly” really means, “I still think you are dumb as a rock.”

Humor is often used as a mask for criticism. If you have to say “I was just kidding” you probably crossed the line into discouragement. People will say some of the ugliest things ever if they think it will be considered funny, but it often relays the wrong message to the people we love.

That’s why Paul says “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Living in harmony with one another glorifies God. “One voice” means we are all giving the same message, and that message is one of encouragement. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” then he tells his disciples that “by this, all men will know you are my disciples…” How do you show your love to one another? In word and in deed.

For those of you who are married, think back to some of the worst fights you have had a couple? Often the root cause of the fight was because one of you considered the other to be unloving or critical? If you had known the secret to changing your encouragement ratio that fight might never have happened?

Here’s the deal; we have the ability to choose encouragement over criticism. We can actually change how we relate to people by simply choosing to become an encourager and then relying on the Spirit of God within us to find ways to encourage one another. How do we learn how to do that?

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
 


The Encouragement Ratio

May 6, 2020

Romans 15:4-6

(4)  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

(5)  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,

(6)  that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a ton of information about encouragement in the Bible, and the verses above show us just how important this topic is because encouragement comes in many forms and we are told that our God is a God of encouragement.

If you think about it, almost everything we do or say can be divided into three categories:

  1. Things that encourage
  2. Things that discourage
  3. Things that do nothing

The Gottman Institute does research on the subject of human interaction and relationships. They’ve been doing it for over 40 years and they are highly regarded by the secular world as experts on this topic.

When it comes to this topic of encouragement, what they discovered will enlighten us as to what is going on in our culture today.

They found that there is an actual “Ratio of encouragement” that people fall into during their interaction with other people. After 40 years of investigation, a lifetime of reports and evaluations and questionnaires and one on one interviews they found that there is an average ratio that we as Americans adhere to. A ratio of encouraging comments to discouraging comments.

Think about your own life… how do you think you compare with the national average? Do you have an idea what the national average might be? It might surprise to find that the national average is one comment of encouragement to six comments of discouragement.

Encouragement like: “you did a good job, I like your style, you always look nice, what a nice boy…”

Criticisms like “why can’t you be like your sister…Why do you always make me crazy… You never…, you always…, Why can’t you do things right!”

When Jesus says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” what was He saying? Perhaps He was saying change your ratio!

Think about it… are you more encouraging than you are discouraging? Or are you in the do nothing club… you just have no effect on people either good or bad? Remember that even saying nothing to people, ignoring them, being complacent with the people around you is not neutral, it is most often perceived as negative.

So what is your ratio?



Refreshment

May 5, 2020

Proverbs 11:25

(25)  Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

The second half of this verse deals with the subject of refreshment. The word translated “waters” is ravah which means to be saturated, drink one’s fill.

 Jesus said that even the person who gives a cup of cool water in His name would be rewarded by the Father. This same idea of bringing refreshment to people is a common theme of encouragement.

In the interactions we have with the people around us we have opportunities to encourage and opportunities to discourage. We can also choose to do nothing and ignore the people’s needs around us. We often take this path, choosing to be distant and aloof from people we meet. We don’t encourage them, but we don’t discourage them (we think) we just choose to do nothing. We don’t water.

Several years ago Sandy was asked by one of the teachers at work to make an announcement about a meeting after school (she worked at a Middle School). The club was the “Do Something Club” but when she made her announcement over the loud speaker to all the students she said the “Do Nothing Club will be meeting in G1 immediately after school.” And none of the other workers in the office even noticed what she said.

The teacher was not very happy… I asked Sandy what the club did and she said that’s the problem, the club never did anything! Later in the semester the teacher changed the name of the club. Sandy doesn’t know what the name was changed to because she was never asked to make another announcement.

Here’s the point: there are a bunch of us in the “do nothing club”

We say things and we do things that have no value to the people we live with, work with, share life with.

Or even worse, we say and do things that have a negative impact on the people around us – we actually discourage the people around us.

What makes the difference? It is in our choosing to be encouraging.

We are called to encourage the people around us. We are called to refresh… give drink to… water the people around us and help them grow. How do we do that?

Jesus said He was the living water and if we drink of Him we will have springs of living water welling up inside of us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Are you sharing this? Are you overflowing with the water of life?

The job of refreshment has been given to us by God. How refreshing is it for others to be around you?

 

 




Daily Devotions 2020