We Need Each Other As We Live Outwardly

One of the things that helps the most in encouraging me toward outward living is being in community with other Christians who are also desiring to live with an outward focus.

When I am attempting this pursuit on my own I can easily get discouraged and become quick to give up. When we enter into the mission of Christ we enter into a spiritual battle. A battle in which one of the enemy’s tools is doubt. We can become quick to question if we should be doing this. We can become quick to question our own ability to do this.

It is amazing how doubt and insecurity can paralyze us and keep us from moving forward.

King Solomon recognized that doing things that are hard is best done with others. He wrote in Ecclesiates 4:9-11, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

The Great Commission calls us into a task that is hard and at times discouraging. As we labor for the sake of the Gospel there are going to be times that we are going to spiritually and emotionally fall down. And left on our own we can have no one to pick us up. No one to encourage us to keep persevering. No one to remind us that Jesus said that he would be with us always as we are living out His commission. As Solomon tells us we can not do hard things alone.

Recently, I had the idea of making signs that each had a short phrase of encouragement on them like, “Your Life Has Purpose” and “Don’t Give Up.” The first time I went out and held this sign up beside a road outside our church where I work it definitely seemed awkward but I left with an excitement to do it again. The second time I did it a week later, my insecurities were definitely higher. It seemed even more awkward and I was really doubting whether this was a good idea. In fact, my mind had already led me to believe this was not a good idea. After about 10 minutes, I gave up and walked back to inside the church.

One our staff members who saw me go out was surprised I was coming back so soon. And then she laughed as she saw what sign I was holding–“Don’t Give Up.” I quickly saw the irony of that moment. A man telling others not to give up had given up.

Shortly after coming back inside I was talking to another staff member and telling him I thought maybe the sign idea was weird and that I should reconsider doing it. He looked at me surprised. He thought it was a great idea. He strongly encouraged me to keep doing it. I was surprised by his strong support. Later, I told my wife about giving up and she quickly told me how she loved that I was doing it. These two moments moved me from giving up to a renewed desire to get back out there.

We need people who will speaking into our lives through the encouragement and power of the Spirit fo God. One of the relationships of encouragement we see in the New Testament is the relationship between the Apostle Paul and the young pastor Timothy. Timothy struggled at times in his role as a pastor in Ephesus. There were times he wanted to leave this local church. But Paul continued to speak into him reminding him that God had both called him to the role and gifted him to lead within this church.

In 1 Timothy 1, Paul writes, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.”

Paul is telling Timothy to remain in church at Ephesus and teach sound docrine and encourage people not move away from sound doctrine. Paul knew this was a hard task. Paul knew there would be many days for Timothy that would be discourage. And so he urges him, remain there. Sometimes when we want to quit, all we need is someone to say that, “you are needed here. what you are doing is good.”

As a pastor, I have certainly experienced days of discouragement. And it is amazing how much my spirit is lifted when someone simply say, “I am so glad you are our pastor or I am so glad God sent you to our church.” Those are simple words that have a powerful impact.

But we often need more encouragement then just, “you are needed.” We need to be reminded that we can do what God has called us to do. Later in chapter 1, Paul writes, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”

Paul is telling Timothy that God has called you to this work. You are not doing this because I sent you or because you decided to do it. This is God’s calling. And yes, it is going to be hard. But remember as you “wage the good warfare” that God has equipped you to do everything that he has called you do.

We all need Paul’s in our life who will build us up and spur us on. As I was writing these very words about Paul encouraging Timothy, a friend texted me out of the blue words of encouragement. Those simple words texted in a few second lifted me and strengthened me.

As we seek to lead an outward life and especially when we are trying new things, we need people around us that will spur us on, build us up and send us back out. if you do not have others around you as you enter into the mission of Christ, ask God to bring people into your life. I believe he will give you those who can labor with you as you live out the Great Commission.

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