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Finding Faith: Encouragement

By REV. CHRISTOPHER PASSANTE

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

One of the most visible signs of mature discipleship is the ability to encourage others. This might sound easy: A friend, co-worker or loved one is feeling down or challenged, and we help them with kind words and prayer. But what about when we might not have such affinity toward another or when we disagree with them?

Maybe on Sunday, the preaching was flat. Maybe the audio or visuals glitched. Maybe the choir didn’t resonate well. What do we say under our breath? Do we turn to the person next to us and make an unkind remark?

If we’re in a church meeting, and a team members has a fact wrong or their idea crashes and burns before even being vetted? Do we argue, call the person out and act gracelessly?

We are all parts of the body, yet we know our human limitations and our need for a Savior. We also know that being a disciple isn’t easy. How do we build a stronger body? “Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thess. 5.14).

Not long ago, I worshipped at another church during a very busy time. It was a bit of a drive, too. Unfortunately, the service ran over, it felt a little “flat” to me, and I wasn’t really “in the moment.” Later, I complained to friends that I wasn’t moved. One friend turned to me and said he was deeply moved. Before I could respond, he said, “I guess it shows that we all come to worship from different places.” Immediately, I saw the “different place” I was coming from — not a physical place, but where my heart was.

Maybe the worship was flat for me, but maybe knowing it, my friend was encouraging me to look at the condition of my heart. Had I been more open and encouraging during the worship, I probably would have been moved as he was.

Lesson learned.

Pastor Francis Chan tells the story of how after worship one Sunday, a church member remarked that he wasn’t moved by worship that day. Chan replied, “That’s OK, we weren’t worshipping you.”

Isn’t that the truth?

We expand more into kingdom life and help others do the same when our hearts are in a place of encouragement. When we need encouragement, we can lean on our brothers and sisters — inside the church and outside of it. We also should make this verse our mantra: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”

Today, ask Jesus to give you an encouraging heart. Then think of someone who needs encouragement and lift them up. Make being encouraging others a part of your daily life — the results are nothing short of beautiful.

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Christopher Passante is senior pastor at Mount Nittany United Methodist Church in State College. Reach him at cpassante@susumc.org or 814-232-1717.

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