Parameters of Encouragement (1)
… walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2.12
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10.31
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5.16
The value of encouragement
Thus far in our study of encouragement, we’ve seen some persuasive examples of why encouragement is so important. When Jesus encouraged people, they became literally different people, emboldened in one way or another to do what was right and honoring to God. So also when Barnabas encouraged Paul, leading to his becoming a powerful and fruitful servant in the Lord’s household.
Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, and their encouragement back to him, also served to further the cause of Christ and the Gospel in those early days of the Christian movement. It’s clear that encouragement is a very important discipline to practice, because by it, good things happen to bring the grace of God to bear on other people. And when that happens, thanks and praise to God increase, and His glory abounds (2 Cor. 4.15).
Encouragement is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit, Who is the great Encourager and dwells in the soul of every believer. He is pleased to do His work of encouragement by engaging us. The Spirit works with the Word of God to stir in our souls, so that we begin to desire more of what the Lord desires of and for us. That stirring can become a lightning bolt of holy spiritual energy in us as others encourage us in the ways of the Lord. By their words, examples, and assistance, we experience the Spirit of God stretching out within us, changing us in our soul and transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, so that we live more boldly and consistently as His disciples and witnesses. And the same can happen when we encourage others.
The writer of the book of Hebrews considered encouragement so important that he instructed his readers to consider – to think about, plan, and prepare – how to stimulate their fellow believers to love and good works (Heb. 10.24). Encouragement is something we all can and must do, for the edification of our fellow believers and the progress of the Kingdom of God.
But encouragement is effective for the cause of Christ only when it is offered within certain parameters. We may not encourage one another to do just anything – whatever may be on our heart or in our mind. That bolt of holy spiritual energy, that moves us to courageous action for the Lord, only strikes positively when we keep in mind the parameters of its power.
And the first of these parameters is the glory of God.
The glory of God is something every believer talks about. We sing about God’s glory: “To God be the glory, great things He has done…” We pray that God will get glory: “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever…” We even remark on this or that experience of God’s glory: “Wasn’t worship glorious today?”
But do we really understand what we’re talking about? The glory of God is the end every Christian should be seeking in every area, facet, activity, and moment of life. All our works should be directed toward bringing glory to God. God has called us to His glory, and if that’s anything like being called to someone’s office or home, it becomes not just something to talk about, but an immersive experience.
But what is the glory of God?
The word glory carries the idea of weight. The Hebrew verb from which “glory” derives means literally, to be heavy, or weighty. We see Paul punning on this idea in 2 Corinthians 6.17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” A weight of glory. What can that mean?
C. S. Lewis was persuaded that most believers do not understand the greatness of the glory of God. We’re too easily satisfied with trivial things. He wrote in The Weight of Glory, “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” He continued, “The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses…shall find approval, shall please God.”
Lewis went on to explain that glory means being in the very Presence of God, experiencing His grandeur and beauty, His holiness, majesty, and might – His weight. And then this: “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
The glory of God is the experience of God – knowing God present in, with, through, for, and by us, so that His Presence is manifest in even the humblest, most ordinary things we do every day. Lewis concluded, “When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.”
We only truly encourage one another when the goal of our encouragement is the glory of God – to show forth the beauty of God; to manifest His holiness, power, goodness, love, and joy; to refract the indwelling Presence of God in works of obedience that stretch us beyond ourselves into new regions and reflections of Christlikeness.
We need one another to know the glory of God with any consistency. Lewis wrote, “All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.” When this is our aim, when we will be satisfied with nothing less than that God should be put on display and glorified, then we may encourage and be encouraged unto the hope of glory, in which we as believers continually stand (Rom. 5.1, 2).
Pray to know God in His glory, to experience His glory in His Word and world, and to encourage His children to live courageously for His glory in everything they do.
1. When do you experience the glory of God?
2. Why do you suppose the glory of God eludes so many believers?
3. Why must we only practice the discipline of encouragement toward the end of God’s glory?
Next steps – Preparation: Pray that God will make you aware of His Presence throughout the day, and will bring you into His glory.
T. M. Moore
We can encourage people in even small and seemingly insignificant ways. Our book Small Stuff helps you be more aware of the opportunities for encouraging others that God brings to you each day. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.