There seems to be an imbalance in the world today. The amount of critiquing, criticizing and discouraging words spoken to others seems to far outweigh those of encouragement and affirmation. Our tendency is to see others and point out their flaws or what we would have done differently instead of recognizing the aspects of others that could be complimented. We quickly tear down and never quite get around to building others up.
This tendency in ourselves is one of the reasons why I so love how Paul often opened his letters to the various churches. Paul affirmed others both in his prayers to God and in the language he spoke to them. Take notice to what Paul is doing:
In 1 Thessalonians, he wrote, “We always give thanks to God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly keeping in mind your work of faith and labor of love and perseverance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father …”
In Philippians, Paul stated, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the Gospel from the first day until now.”
In Colossians, Paul begins, “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints …”
Paul saw the good aspects in others, their faith, hard work, perseverance, and love for others, and he rejoiced over it. Were the people he wrote to perfect? Certainly not! But Paul’s heart was overwhelmed and he continuously went to God in prayer to thank God for the good he saw in the lives of these people.
Can you imagine being a believer in one of these churches and Paul’s letter being read out loud to you when it was first received? Can you imagine how your heart would leap for joy as you heard those words affirming you? The impact of those words must have been tremendous!
The great thing is that words of encouragement and affirmation are impactful whenever they come from anyone. It doesn’t need to come directly from an apostle to completely change your day or your week. We have the power to impact people in this way as well.
I want to challenge you not just to give compliments though. You may feel motivated for a few days to point out some nice things in others but if you are only looking to give compliments, you will slowly drift back into your old patterns and ways of doing things.
I challenge you to be like Paul and go to God and thank him for the good and praiseworthy things you see in others. Take time to recognize that it is God working through the people you are encountering and allow yourself the time and space for your heart to grow truly grateful for it. When we do this, I know we will be blessed by it and our love for God and others will only continue to deepen.
People’s EC Church is located at 216 Wagner St., Lehighton.