DAY FIVE | Offer Encouragement
Welcome to the fifth and final day of “The Gift of Grace” in honor of Mother’s Day! Grace is often thought of as the “unmerited favor” of God in salvation, but as we saw in Day One this week, grace means so much more. In Scripture, grace is also used to show kindness to someone. It often it refers to “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness. [There is a sense of] goodwill, lovingkindness and favor.”
This more substantial understanding of grace refers to the spaciousness of God’s kindness both extended to us and that which we can extend others, and this week our application is focused upon mothers. The first four days this week, we’ve used G.R.A.C.E as an acronym and looked in Scripture for instruction on how to offer grace through Gratitude, Respect, Acceptance and Compassion. Today we’ll look at 1 Thessalonians and consider the gift of Encouragement.
The Apostle Paul wrote today’s text to new Christ-followers in a young church in the city of Thessalonica. His letter encouraged them in their new faith, defended his ministry as an apostle, exhorted them to live godly lives and gave them assurance concerning what happened to Christians who died before the return of Christ. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians and us today not to live as those who are “asleep,”(verse 6) in a state of “spiritual lethargy and insensitivity,” but as those who are alert and living godly lives awaiting Christ’s returns.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11(NIV)
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Paul uses the words translated as “light” and “day” to refer to God’s people and his truth and “dark” or “night” to refer to the unsaved world in the midst of dark forces. Because we are “children of the light” (vs 5), “awake and sober (behaving with self-control or moderation)” (vs 6), how should we respond to the world around us? (vs 8)
Because the return of the Lord Jesus is approaching and will arrive suddenly, what are we to do? (vs 11)
1 Thessalonians 5:11 is a well-known verse describing how we are to treat one another in the body of Christ. We are to “encourage one another and build each other up.” A modern definition of the word encourage is to “inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.” The definition in the text today means “to cause someone to be encouraged or consoled by verbal or nonverbal means.”
While it would be easy to just look at the inspiring exhortation in verse 11, it’s always important to consider a verse in its context. Even though Paul wrote this letter nearly 2000 years ago, we are still in the end times just as the Thessalonians were. We all need encouragement especially in times of trial to continue to be faithful to Jesus. Our faithfulness should come, not just in big circumstances, decisions or events. We need encouragement on a regular basis to love God and others moment-by-moment, in all areas of our lives.
Moms, along with Dads, are raising their children in times that can be full of darkness and temptation. They need this encouragement as they prepare the next generation to faithfully follow Jesus as “children of the light.” Part of being “awake and sober” is being aware that Jesus could return at any moment and living like it. But part of being awake is knowing that his return may still be a long ways off, and preparing our children to be lights in a dark world. It’s a tough job, and all parents need encouragement.
Think of a time when you felt discouraged and weary and someone encouraged you. How did that person encourage you?
With Mother’s Day just two days away, we can apply this timeless truth to encourage each other to follow Jesus by encouraging the mothers and mother-figures in our lives. More than ever, moms need our encouragement! Moms can grow weary in the hard and sometimes thankless everyday duties that go with mothering.
Encouragement can come from all kinds of places. I once found a note from a stranger that was slipped into my diaper bag. I had been at a day-long swim meet for one child with three squirmy little ones (all dressed in their favorite costume). We spent hours in the bleachers waiting for their sibling to swim for a grand total of five minutes. I did nothing extraordinary that day. As I recall, I was just glad that no one wet their pants trying to make it to the bathroom during one of our many trips.
Back at home later that evening, I breathed a sigh of relief as I unpacked the diaper bag. I found a note that read, “Buzz Lightyear and his friends did so well today. You did a great job, mom.” I wept with gratitude at the kindness of that encouraging person. A few words on a piece of paper was all it took to refresh my soul and have more confidence for the next day.
- How can you encourage a mom in your life?
- How can you also offer gratitude, respect, acceptance, and compassion?
Happy Mother’s Day!
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