A light in the darkness.
Lately, when I have thought of the subject of encouragement, I can't help but think of David. He had a time (1 Samuel 30) when he and his army came home to find that their home had been burned down and their wives, sons, and daughters were missing. That's a bad enough day, right? But it gets worse. After David and his army had wept over their loss, David's army begins to turn against him and soon there's talk of them stoning him to death. Instead of arguing about who was right or wrong, instead of trying to defend himself, and instead of trying to take matters into his own hands, He chooses to encourage himself in the Lord.
Everything changed when David sought the Lord. He responds to his men with wisdom, courage, and strength. Out of his time spent with the Lord being encouraged and seeking God's guidance, David pursues victory and, as a result, everything they had lost is returned.
Another story that also speaks to encouragement is found in Mark 1:35-39. Basically, we happen upon Jesus while He is spending time with the Father. Through His prayer time, He avoids distraction and heads on into a new town where He preaches and casts out demons. Everything Jesus spoke and did served to encourage. He constantly pointed to God and His love for humanity (the reason Jesus was here to begin with). Jesus spoke hope. What is more encouraging than hope?
So what do these two stories have in common and what do they have to do with speaking encouragement?
To answer this question, let's turn our attention to Luke 6:45.
...For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Both David and Jesus refrained from speaking to others until they had sought the Lord. David sought the Lord for encouragement. Jesus sought the Father at the beginning of His day for direction for his day.
So how can we expect to speak anything encouraging to our family, our friends, strangers, or our guests unless we first seek the Lord for our encouragement?
What if I spent the first part of my day asking the Lord for encouraging "treasures" to store in my heart? What if I ask that He filled my heart with so much encouragement, that it can't help but spill out to the people around it who desperately need HIS encouragement?
Jesus shows us how much He valued His time with the Lord. He didn't save this encouraging time just for Sundays. He sought the Lord 24/7. No time was "off limits" for talking with the Lord, for receiving direction and guidance, or for receiving encouragement from the Father. From this one interaction with the Father, He brought freedom and hope to countless people through His preaching and deliverance.
Sometimes showing encouragement to our family is done with more than just words. Sometimes showing encouragement means surrendering our own comforts (like that extra sleep our body longs for) to seek the Lord on someone else's behalf. Sometimes it means allowing the Lord to use us as He pleases to bring about the freedom and hope, the ultimate encouragement! Encouragement is both actions AND words!
What is our heart being filled with? What sorts of treasures lie there? Our biggest clue as to what resides in our heart is what comes spilling out of it. Are our hearts filled with sarcasm and criticism? Are our hearts overflowing with hate-filled speech that tears down God's creation? Are our hearts being filled with busyness so that every encounter reflects a rushed heart with snappy words?
"...For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
If we want our words to be filled with encouragement for the world around us (even the world that resides in our own home), then we need to follow David's example and go to the Source for our encouragement. God is faithful to focus us, bring peace to our chaotic hearts, and fill our hearts and mouths with encouraging words. Doesn't encouragement in the face of a discouraging and negative world bring hope to your heart? Imagine what that encouragement can do to a discouraging and negative world.
May the encouragement we receive from the Lord be a ray of sunshine for this world!