Sunday, January 21, 2018

LHM Devotion - January 21, 2018 "The Fine Art of Encouragement"

Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"The Fine Art of Encouragement"

Jan. 21, 2018

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

It was only a few weeks ago that Alabama played Georgia for the national football championship.

As you can imagine, it was an important game. The college which wins the title will find it easier to raise money, get free publicity, and recruit top-of-the-line players in the future. Students who do well in such a game will find the path to big money in the NFL has been smoothed out considerably.

Alabama's quarterback, Jalen Hurts, had managed to win an impressive 25 of the 28 games he had started. To do exceptionally well in this championship game would be icing on the cake of Hurts' college career. Unfortunately, things didn't go as he had hoped. When halftime came, Alabama was behind 13 to 0.

When the second half began, Hurts was replaced by freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He did a spectacular job. He managed to recharge the Alabama team and, in overtime, pull off a win for that grand, old university.

But Hurts? What about him who had been replaced? How would he feel about the demotion?

The cameras kept zeroing in on him to see if his face would register some "sour grapes." They didn't. On the contrary, Hurts seemed loudest in shouting encouragement to his replacement. After the game, many of the sports reporters interviewed Hurts. They all asked questions, which gave him the opportunity to take some shots at his replacement.

Hurts refused to take those shots.

Instead of criticism, Hurts said things like "He's good for stuff like this" and "He has the 'it' factor. I'm so happy for him and so happy for the team." Now don't get me wrong Hurts is still a first-class quarterback. It's just that he's an even better man -- and an even better encourager.

From what I'm able to see, being an encourager is pretty much a dying art, and those who encourage are an endangered species. Today it is far more fashionable to disparage and to deride; it is more news worthy to complain, to criticize, to condemn, and to censure. Sadly, Christian churches and denominations are not immune from the sad and sinful habit of taking cheap shots at others.

Now understand, the administration of the law is a necessary thing. We dare not go about spreading whitewash everywhere and pretending there is no such thing as sin. Sin is real, and so is our obligation to point it out and bring people back to the forgiveness the Savior has won for us.

Yes, pointing out sin is our job, but so, as Paul points out, is encouraging and building up those who need it. And how can we tell if someone needs to be encouraged? That's easy. We do it for all and work under the assumption that if they don't need to be encouraged, they will tell us.

Now I'm not a prophet, but I think you'll have to wait a long time before you meet such a person.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, it's easy to point out the specks in the eyes of others. Let us, as much as we are able, help others get rid of the specks which cloud their vision and then, when the specks are gone, help them clearly see the Savior who has done all which is necessary to save us. In the Redeemer's Name we pray. Amen.

Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
It was only a few weeks ago that Alabama played Georgia for the national football championship.

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