It’s LOVE month. And I’m enjoying (although it’s so challenging) rehearsing those scriptures that teach us about love – ones that reminds us to love others, what love looks like, how God loves us and how we are to love Him. In the midst of my reading, I came across writing by Kevin DeYoung that was extremely helpful.
The Bible tells us that love builds up. Or to say it another way, we might say that love encourages. Here’s the deal though – There is a big difference between encouragement and flattery.
So thanks, Kevin for helping me as I meditate on the subject of LOVE! ….
“My definition of Christian encouragement: highlighting the work of God’s grace evident in the gospel or in a gospel-centered person to the glory of God.This definition helps to distinguish between encouragement and flattery. Encouragement is different from flattery because …
- Encouragement is based on what is true.
- Encouragement is kept in proportion.
- Encouragement has no ulterior motive.
- Encouragement is a mark of mature Christianity.Encouragement was exemplified in scripture, in the life of Paul and God Himself!
In Romans 16, Paul cultivates an atmosphere of appreciation and affection in the church. Paul didn’t just commend people for being really good at something. His heart overflows in encouragement because of the work for the gospel and by the power of the gospel that he sees in them. The strongest bonds in our friendships should be gospel bonds. The deepest affections ought to be stirred in us, not just because we like the same movies or music as someone else, or we have the same sense of humor, or we root for the same sports teams–these things are common graces to us and we can be thankful for them, but the deepest affection should be stirred by gospel ties and gospel friendships and a shared passion for the gospel. Paul wanted the church to be quick to encourage, not quick to condemn. He wanted them overflowing in praise, instead of overflowing in criticism. He wanted the church to be warm and invigorating, not cold and life-quenching. He didn’t want a church of boasters or flatterers.
And God the great Encourager, is constantly highlighting His own works of grace in our lives. He is always rejoicing in the truth. He says about Jesus “this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” He calls us beloved, little children, new creations. He made us in His image, and has crowned us with steadfast love and mercy. Because of the work of Christ, God accepts us instead of condemns us. And by this same work–making us humble lovers of truth and making others fruitful in the truth–we can encourage those who belong to Christ.” (Kevin DeYoung)
So, let us ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER in authentic love and truth …. and all the more because That Day is quickly approaching when Christ returns for His Bride.