Today’s "thought" comes to you from the well-known Christian psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb and is found in one of his first books, “Encouragement – The Unexpected Power of Building Others Up.” It’s the true story of a crucial turning point in his life and an extremely powerful example of what words of encouragement are able to do in a person's soul. Enjoy.
“The tongue has the power of life and death.”
As a 9th grader (14 years old) Larry was asked to pray before the Lord’s Supper as part of his church’s custom to involve young people in the morning worship service. But since it was his first time ever praying out loud in the service, he says, he was filled “less with worship than with nervousness.” In fact, he was so nervous that when he prayed his prayer he ventured into heresy. He thanked: “The Father for hanging on the cross, and praised Christ for triumphantly bringing the Spirit from the grave.” He stuttered throughout and finally ended with the word, “Amen” and sat down – which was perhaps the first evidence of the Holy Spirit’s leading.”
Staring at the floor humiliated and too embarrassed to even look up, he vowed that he would never again speak out loud in front of a group of people. With a desire to do no more than hide, he darted for the door as the service ended. “I was not quick enough,” he says. “An older man named Jim Dunbar intercepted me, put his arm on my shoulder, and cleared his throat. I remember thinking to myself: ‘Here it comes. Oh well, just endure it and then get to the car.’ I then listened to this godly gentleman speak words that I can repeat verbatim to this day, more than 20 years later: ‘Larry,’ he said, ‘there’s only one thing I want you to know. Whatever you do for the Lord, I’m behind you one thousand percent.’ Then he walked away.”
“Even as I write these words,” he says, “my eyes fill with tears. I have yet to tell that story before an audience without at least mildly choking up. Those words were life words. They had power. They reached deep into my being. My resolve never to speak again in front of an audience weakened instantly… Now I regularly speak and pray before crowds of all sizes and do it without stuttering and I love it…” Then he concludes: “God intends that we (as Christians) be people who encourage one another. A well-timed word has the power to urge a runner to finish the race, rekindle hope when despair has set in, spark a bit of warmth in an otherwise cold life… and renew confidence when problems have the upper hand.”
Who have you pulled aside to encourage lately? As Christians it seems that we have been slack at best if we have not sought to encourage or build up our brothers and sisters in Christ, for we are called many times throughout the New Testament to do so (I Cor. 14:1-5, I Cor. 14:12, II Cor. 10:8, II Cor. 13:10, Col. 4:7-14, Heb. 10:25…). Hebrews 3:13 even goes as far as to tell believers: "Encourage one another daily..."
Scripture couldn't be much clearer: One of our highest priorities in relation to other believers is to encourage and build them up using our words, attitudes, and actions. God knows that on occasion we all need to hear encouraging words from our spiritual family and friends. Don’t let the opportunities slip by.
In the Grace of Jesus, Pastor Jeff