During this summer, I went to a special camp called CIT. It was a two-week, hyper-intense camp and we had two interviews. I was a tad nervous, just like everyone else. We had no idea what was going down in these things. The guys interviewing us were accomplished pastors, and the guy interviewing me was the president of a fairly well-known seminary. I sat in the lobby waiting my turn, and then I was told to come in. I sat down and we just started talking, better than feeling like I was playing a game of “leadership in theology” version of twenty questions. I was honest with him, told him my salvation story, my beliefs on the Bible, and how God has shown his grace on me. We came to the end of the interview and I thought I was just being real, and he was going to say something to healthily rebuke me, but his answer surprised me.
He said “Devan, after hearing what you’ve just heard, I can see you have a huge love for God and knowledge of the Bible that most teens your age don’t have. I don’t know how to approach this because you aren’t at the typical understanding of a CITer. It’s been a real blessing hearing you this session. The thing i think you need to look at is that you don;t get prideful. You seem to have it down now, but check out the resources in the back of your book and start reading them”
And that was it. No rebuking, nothing set in stone, he just sent me on my merry way. As I was walking back to the main campsite all I could think about were those words. I was worried that I was going to take those and just get all proud and full of myself, so I tried not to think about it. Like anything, the more you try NOT to think about it the more you DO wind up thinking about it. Why did he encourage me? Was I not totally honest with him? Did I unknowingly try to make myself look better than I really am? I was having a little nervous breakdown. He gave me these words of encouragement but I was taking them like words of sin.
I couldn’t accept the fact that MAYBE God was actually doing something in my life. That God was sanctifying me in a way that I simply couldn’t see. Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that encouragement was a bad thing. That somewhere in the Bible we should take encouragement and throw it out the window when we receive it. That humility was total apathy to the positive things people are saying about me. Yeah. My head was totally out of wack with what the Bible really says about encouragement.
I ignored the fact that Paul encouraged the church of Thessalonica, but I loved the book of Galatians when he was just rebuking the church. I thought that’s what I needed. I listened to guys like Mark Driscoll and loved it when he was yelling and rebuking his church, but I ignored the fact that after he did all that he encouraged his congregation with the Bible. You see, pride is sin in all shapes and sizes, and God tells us that blatantly in Proverbs, saying he HATES it. He hates it when we get puffed up, just like James wrote. But encouragement doesn’t have to be like that. Encouragement is a blessing from God and we need to do it in the church, and Paul tells us to in one of his epistles. JESUS, the guy who we worship and follow, encouraged his friends on several occasions throughout the Bible. You know what else He did? He inspired the writers of the Bible to encourage us!
Encouragement is a gift and not a sin. It’s to be taken as a gift from God, and is something that we should praise him for. The issue isn’t encouragement. It’s the pride in our hearts. But there’s good news. If we talk to God, the sovereign ruler of the universe, he can help us with our issue. He can pick up our burdens and carry them. He WANTS to carry them. He died so he COULD carry them. Our God loves us beyond comprehension, we should be encouraged in that fact and only take pride in the fact that our Lord and savior loves us enough he’d die for his church (you and me) and is in control of not only us, but all creation. Encouragement isn’t sin. praise GOD that he has given you the abilities to do all things, and of course, remember that in all things glorify Him.
- 5 ways we can come near to God (bnstephensblog.wordpress.com)
- How to Not Worship the Bible (matthewruttan.com)
- Hipster Church (What are your thoughts?) (joelcgillespie.wordpress.com)