A New Outfit
by Sharon Betters
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
The Apostle Paul outlines a description of a biblical encourager: Be one whose motive is to share the message of Christ through teaching, admonishing one another, expressing gratitude to our God, and in everything we do, whether it’s writing an encouragement note, preparing a meal for a needy person, working in a food bank, counseling a friend through a divorce, caring for children while a sick friend gets medical attention, or cleaning the house of a friend struggling with cancer treatments. Note what rules the hearts of such people: the peace of Christ. God’s Word is rooted in the heart and the peace that comes from God’s Word rules the actions of this person and flows out through her actions and into her relationships.
Don’t skip this important discipline of soaking in God’s word with the expectation that such an investment of time will transform you in ways you never imagined possible. Not enough time? French Archbishop Francois Fenelon, wrote this note to a busy duchess in 1689:
You must learn, too, to make good use of chance moments: when waiting for someone, when going from place to place, or when in society where to be a good listener is all that is required; - at such times it is easy to lift the heart to God, and thereby gain fresh strength for further duties. The less time one has, the more carefully it should be managed. If you wait for free, convenient seasons in which to fulfill real duties, you run the risk of waiting forever; especially in such a life as yours. No, make use of all change moments . . . One moment will suffice to place yourself in God’s presence to love and worship Him, to offer all you are doing or bearing, and to still all your heart’s emotions at His feet. (Francois Fenelon, Spiritual Letters to Women (New Canaan, Conn: Keats Publishing, 1980), 21-22
As God calls you into the darkness by yourself or with a friend, you need a road map. The only reliable road map I know is His Word. In Today’s Treasure we find a road to experiencing supernatural peace as we reach out to others with the message of Jesus. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to wrap ourselves in the beautiful clothing of Christ’s character, to love one another and to forgive one another. He tells us to let the message of Jesus take up residence in our hearts and when we do, we will experience His peace. I think this is a key to life-giving encouragement: soaking in the beauty of God’s Word in such a way that we are led to repentance for our own sin, repentantce leads to gratitude for grace, grace releases us to trust the Lord with the one who desperately needs His love. Obedience to Paul’s exhortation will lead to freedom in the way we offer help and hope to others, knowing we are not the fixers. We are simply setting a table and inviting others to taste and see that the Lord is good.
Apply the counsel from Francois Fenelon to the busy duchess. Make use of “moments”. Be on the alert for opportunities to reflect redemption. Take advantage of “down time” to turn your heart to the Lord, through music, and His Word. Write in your Journal:
Biblical solutions to devastating life circumstances exist, consider:
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
As you commit to obeying the encouragement command, start your mornings with this prayer: In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.
Lord, remind us throughout today that if we belong to You, then Jesus lives within us. Bring to mind Scriptures that describe His love and the priceless gift of salvation so that our faith grows as we get a bigger picture of the grace that is ours.