LEARNING TO ENCOURAGE

…like Jesus. What did the resurrected Christ do when He paid a visit to the disciples, hiding behind locked doors? He could have said, “Way to desert me at my darkest hour.” Instead of a complaint a commission:  “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” They had lost their “sent,” but Jesus restored it without blasting them. He appeared personally to Peter, not to rebuke but to reinstate. It worked.

Two years before, John the Baptist was arrested for coming against Herod, and he never saw daylight again. Looking at life from a dungeon was difficult, and doubts rose to the surface. Jesus responded not by criticizing His forerunner and friend but by affirming the man who boldly led the charge: “Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). How kind.

When Jesus was baptized, God spoke from heaven and said, “You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). It was like the proud Father could not keep silent. At the transfiguration, the Father spoke to the disciples, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt. 17:5). It must have been encouraging to the Son, a man, to hear these thunderous words from the sky. Enabled Him to keep encouraging others.

Christ’s encouragement to people often came during times of tension, when it was most needed. The disciples were grumbling about the woman who wasted the perfume on Jesus. He responded, “She has done a beautiful thing to me…She has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9). Quite a remarkable statement.

Simon, a Pharisee, judged the woman under his breath who crashed the party at his home. And he judged Jesus, who should have known that she was a sinner. Jesus took up the challenge and said, “I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much, but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:44-47).  Ouch! Imagine what that meant to the sinner woman!

When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary, He said, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). I hope Mary didn’t go to Martha later and said, “See, I was right.”

It must have been deeply satisfying after working hard and taking big risks to hear the boss say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). I want to encourage people like Jesus did! Don’t you?  The way you can tell if people need it is to find out if they are breathing. If they are, they need it!

 

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