I enjoy encouraging people rather than discouraging them.. or at least being part of an effort to see encouragement happen. How about you? I want to be better at it too.
Paul was like that when he said, "…we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith" (1 Thess. 3:2, nkjv).
Love isn't God, but God is indeed love so I like to hang out with God a lot—they say you become like the person you are close to. I also like to hang out with gentle and loving kind of people who enjoy encouraging others. I can't abide discouraging, hyper-negative people very long, but there are times when I must deal with them just like there are times when you too must interact with them. The nail comes with the hammer, the weed comes with the field, the fleas come with the dog.
Check out for a moment what Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 1:2-4, "Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
You knew that discouragement often leads a person into failures and an assortment of other wrong-doin's didn't ya? You knew that the word "comfort" could be used interchangeably with the words consolation, solace and encouragement right? You knew that our God is the God of all comfort and encouragement didn't you? You knew that the devil isn't about those things at all. Oh no! He loves to lie, deceive, confuse, condemn, depress, kill, accuse, oppress and greatly discourage people. He is to this day a very evil-minded, religious person.
You know what.. some of my friends and I came out of very religious churches that were led by spiritually blind, spiritually dead, mean-spirited men who strongly pushed good works but acted just like the harsh hypocritical Pharisees of old. They didn't practice what they preached and were like white washed tombs filled with decomposing bones (see Matt. 23:27). You remember how those religious folk were the very ones who gave Christ the most trouble when He walked down here on this planet. They were full of themselves.. way-arrogant, insensitive, vindictive, hard-hearted people who would never care at all if they hurt Christ ..or even murdered Him. They didn't care if they hurt his followers either.
You knew that God never changes ..or learns any thing new right? You know how the Pharisees are also the same yesterday today and forever ..didn't you? I don't mean that they are the same as God by any means.. I simply mean they refuse to change. Sad! I'm willing to change, 'cause I have a long ways to go (thanks friends for putting up with me so long!). Are you willing to change.. or be changed into the person you were always meant to be? What's encouraging to me is the fact that Jesus Christ was never hypocritical.. not even one time. How can you not fall head over heals in love long-term with a personality like that?
I have a Christian friend who refers to himself as a "recovering Pharisee." I love it.. he sees his weakness. I wish we all could get the log out of our own eye before we start trying to extract the twig from another person's eye (OK.. I guess I've started preaching again on my soapbox). But why don't we have those kind of "religious support groups" today.. "Hi, my name is George and I'm a Pharisee." And the crowd responds, "Hi, George! Here's 12 steps and a big Book." You and I have probably never heard anyone confess, "Hey man, I've really been religious lately" (and I'm not talking about pure religion in caring for the orphans or widows here). Hopefully you have never been like the Pharisees before, but there have unfortunately been times when you and I in either small ways or large ..have also acted the hypocrite. We have all sinned! Yup, it really all started with Adam and Eve. And most people recognize and will admit that there have been times when they haven't lived up to who they say they are or should be. I really hate hypocrisy, but I'm glad that Christ is helping me to hate it even more. There's always room for personal growth until I hate it to the same degree as He hates it.. and love sinners and saints to the same degree as He does.
Please know that God ain't religious. May I ask you.. do you have a personal relationship with this tender-hearted God of all comfort, compassion and encouragement? You can! I came to Him because I discovered what He was really like and I never want to be religious ..or a hypocrite.