Teaching My Heart Podcast – Episode 8
So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder
2 Peter 1:12-13
A few years ago when I had a bad view of what suffering meant and I reacted to pain immaturely, in rebellion, and sinfully, hurting people around me, I tried to find fellowship with men who were seeking after God but I didn’t know where they were or how to talk with them.
Some people consider me articulate and yet I didn’t know how to engage other men in confession and moreover, I feared what confession would look like. I feared that it would result in others judging me.
That’s not been my experience in the body of Christ. I’ve found men I can talk with in earnest as long as I’m willing to commit myself to obey God and seek Him and there is no condemnation. I’ll be the first to admit that’s not always the case; I have met some who are hyper-critical and see it as their God-given job to break people … you know, spiritually speaking (yes, I’ve had someone say that aloud in a group).
This is why it is critically important for those of us who believe that God’s grace is over-abundant, overwhelming, and entirely satisfying to speak up to others, men to men and women to women, with encouragement.
We are to recite God’s promises of forgiveness for the penitent and His promises of judgement for the rebellious. We are to recount not only the stories from the Bible but our own stories of battles with our enemies and sin habits, our flesh rising up and seeking its own twisted pleasures and then of God’s satisfying power.
Encouragement is a commandment given multiple times in the New Testament. If you are found in the blood of Jesus, then you are commanded to encourage your fellow Christians, not with platitudes, nor is your encouragement to be that God is just goodness and love. We encounter many different kinds of problems and many Christians have been killed for their faith in Jesus. This is not a pain-free life, yet it is in the always present Holy Spirit of God that we find peace and power and promise that, to the glory of Jesus Christ, we can put off our old sinful habits, consider our flesh to be dead and instead, choose to walk in the good deeds that God laid out for us before we were ever adopted by Him.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
I like to text a group of men every week with some thought from my time with God, in His Bible. I pray for those men and, at times, sit in sacred fellowship with them, listening to their confessions of human failure and sin and God’s faithfulness to forgive and cleanse. In the sum, I don’t have the power to fix them, nor they, me. We each and all depend wholly on the miraculous name and power of Jesus of Nazareth. He alone is the God who created all things and His authority and power alone delivers us all from death into life. It is His breath that gives us life and His love that gives us being. Everything is about Him and for Him and we are but some of His glorious, beautiful creation that He is redeeming back from our sinful rebellion against Him.
Here’s my encouragement to you if you are a Christian:
You are named Beloved and Redeemed. You are adopted with full rights to enjoy the blessings of the only Being who was never created. When He created all that ever has, is, or will exist, He chose you.
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel loves you emphatically and nothing you’ve ever done and nothing you will ever do changes that. You cannot make Him love you any differently; no more, no less. You’ll never gross God out with your perversion or your sin. He hates your sin but He loves you so much that He punished your sin in holy Jesus and He gave you Jesus’ holiness. It’s not fair. It’s completely undeserved and yet that is what God did for you. He is at work in you, making you like Him. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Hold fast to the hope that Jesus gives for one day you will see Him in glory with no sin afflicting you, no sin marring your sight, no voices shouting in your head that you’re not enough or that you’ll just screw it up again. Some day you will have perfect, peaceful joy, completed in your entire existence.
All of this is to the glory of Jesus Christ.