Encourage one another and build each other up. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11
In an age where sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions with the masses is easy via social media, I have noticed a few trends. One is criticism. This isn’t always bad. In a world that bombards us with more information than we can possibly digest, we must learn to be critical, and to discern right from wrong, good information from faulty information.
Another trend is a willingness to share. People share things they would never dream of saying in a real-life setting. Sometimes this is good as it helps people open up and explore. We hear profound wisdom from introverts and people who are often too shy or self-conscious to speak up one-on-one or in a small group.
However, sadly, this combination can also be quite destructive. It’s easy to critique everything and everyone, examining every word and action through a microscopic lens, judging a person’s motives or character when we know little about them or their situation.
I recently ran across a news story about a man who bought all of the pies at a Burger King to spite a child misbehaving in the line behind him. While this story is certainly something else , what captures my eye and truly brings sorrow to my soul is the comments on this page. So many people comment on how awful the mom is, how she needs discipline, etc. I honestly couldn’t read it all because it was too heart breaking. (Yes, I realize I am sensitive, but is it possible that we are generally desensitized as a culture?) With this kind of banter, it is no wonder callouses are building, defenses are going up and people are feeling more discouraged and depressed than ever before. I know there are several factors that come into play here, but I’m sure the constant and often cruel criticism does not help.
Imagine for a moment that you are the mom in the article above. Maybe this is typical or maybe you’ve had a rough day. It doesn’t matter. Imagine someone in line in front of you who truly cares about you, not because they know you, but because you are a child of God and you are valuable to Him. Now imagine instead of someone telling you to “Keep that child quiet. In my day, we used things called spankings. . .”, they talk to your child for a minute, they are kind and encourage you in your walk as a mother with words like “Don’t worry mama, we’ve all been there. Some days are rough, but the work you are doing is so important. Hang in there and this little one will reap the benefits.” Wouldn’t that buoy you up? Wouldn’t that encourage you to press on and excel?
In His word, God continually implores us to encourage each other. (1 Peter 4:8-10, Ephesians 4:29 and Hebrews 10:24 just to name a few. ;) ) I believe that we grow best through encouragement and others helping us grow in our gifts. And then through our gifts and the working of the Holy Spirit, we may find what we need to overcome our weaknesses. At this time in our world, when criticism is at an all time high, encouragement is needed more than ever!
What about you? How can you be an encouragement to those around you today? When has encouragement meant a lot to you or someone you know? What ideas do YOU have for encouraging others around you? I would love to hear from you!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-5