Today’s fortune cookie is very timely: “He who throws mud loses ground.” I have seen and heard a lot of ground being tossed around lately. Look at the news or on social media. People have surely forgotten the phrase often shared by parents or grandparents – if you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.
Titus mentions the importance of trying “to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (3:2 ESV). We all are God’s creation and we are all valuable in His eyes. He designed each one of us with special gifts, each one of us for a purpose. God loves everyone. God’s desire is that we honor each other—that we value each other. This means you recognize that each person is important, each person matters. Even further from this, we are to love each person – every single person.
Unfortunately, it often seems as if we throw mud instead of extending a hand and two ears. Instead of forming relationships with people that we may not agree with on some or many areas, we point out their flaws, attack them at every turn, and choke ourselves. Yes, we choke ourselves. Proverbs 1:31 speaks of eating a bitter fruit because of living our own way, and even choking on our own schemes. Remember, we always harvest what we plant (see Galatians 6:7). If you are spreading seeds that include name calling, half-truths, verbal tongue lashings, etc., you will enjoy a not-so-uplifting harvest. The question to ask today is: What am I planting? The next question to ask: Is what I’m planting today going to give me the harvest I desire?
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Ephesians 4:29 [NLT]
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:2 [NIV]
Week 3 – Add Fabric Softener
CARING LIKE BARNABAS
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [NLT]
GENEROUS – Acts 4:36-37 – Barnabas sold land to provide for fellow Christians
ACCEPTING – Acts 9:26-28 – Barnabas took a chance with Paul when the other’s weren’t accepting him.
ENCOURAGING – Acts 11:23-24 – Barnabas was glad to see what God did through others and encouraged them to all remain true to God.
GRACIOUS – Acts 15:36-41 – Barnabas extended grace to John Mark, not giving up on John Mark.
Embrace – Encourage – Equip – Empower
Put yourself aside and let others get ahead (Philippians 2:3-4)
Speak what is helpful for building others up (Ephesians 4:29)
2 Timothy 4:11 – Paul later requested John Mark because he was profitable to the ministry.
Breakout Session Questions:
1) Read Acts 15:36-41 and Philippians 2:3-4. How does this passage in Philippians relate to the narrative in Acts 15?
2) Read Ephesians 4:29. What does Paul describe in this passage? How do we live this out?
3) Read Romans 15:1-6 Who are we to please? What does this passage describe as the relationship between the strong and weak? How can we live this out?
4) Read 1 Timothy 2:1-3. What does this passage say is most important, and why is this most important?
Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.
- Week 1 – Stain Removal – Caring for God’s glory
- Week 2 – Do Not Bleach – Caring for Truth
- Week 3 – Add Fabric Softener – Caring like Barnabas
- Week 4 – Fasten the Zipper – Caring for Unity
- Week 5 – Empty Pockets – Caring for Treasures
- Week 6 – Iron Low Heat – Caring without Complacency
Encouragement is so important. The Bible tells us to encourage others. I have personally seen encouragement go a long way in a person’s life. Paul wrote how he wanted to encourage others in their faith, but then he said something interesting. He said, “But I also want to be encouraged by yours.” What? He wanted to be encouraged by their faith?
Faith is encouraging. When others have faith, it is an encouragement. Even Paul, who many see as this great person of faith, could be encouraged by the faith of others. It is encouraging to see what God is doing through other people. It is encouraging to see others walking in faith. It is a truly a blessing and an honor to share. What an encouragement to those who witness God’s presence in your life.
Today, remember that you can be an encouragement to others. Go out of your way to encourage someone. Speak life. Share a laugh. Walk in faith. Encourage others in their faith. And allow yourself to be encouraged by what God is doing in the lives around you. Look around and watch Him move. He is alive. He is doing great things.
“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” – Romans 1:12 [NLT]
Grace is amazing. It has a sweet sound. We read that, “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10 NLT). This is GOOD NEWS! Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are called children of God. We are “called to share in His eternal glory.”
Yes, we will suffer. Yes, everything will not be smooth. But this is for “a little while.” Then we can trust that “He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” God pours out His grace upon grace. Peter notes that everything we “are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for (us).” He encourages us to “stand firm in this grace.”
Today, stand firm in this grace. Understand that there is grace that is for you. Yes, God’s grace for you! It exists. He continues to pour it out to you. Show yourself some grace and stand firm in His grace!
“I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother. My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.” – 1 Peter 5:12 [NLT]
When my daughter first began running Cross Country a few years back, she noted the importance of running within the flags. There’s a course set up and you have to go around the flags in such a way. If you go off of the course, you are in trouble. Something that I see as a big problem is the spectators. You have your eager parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc., chasing alongside the course cheering and screaming encouragement. Sometimes they get onto the course. Then you have those people who have no clue how Cross Country courses are laid out, and they walk onto the course. Many times, you will hear a parent yell for people to “get off the track” or “get off the field.” I have been that yelling parent many times. This weekend, I was that parent on three occasions. Guilty! I don’t usually yell, but when I do, you know it was me.
Thankfully none of the uninformed onlookers caused any real problems. They move quite quickly when you yell at them. However, there have been instances when runners have been slowed down because of some disruption on the course. Despite the yelling of the referees, coaches, and parents, it happens. Can you imagine running miles, training for weeks, trying to beat a record—only to have someone stroll onto the course and cause you to lose all that effort in a blink of an eye?!? Sometimes it’s a few tenths of a second. Boom.
Paul talks about us running a race. Each of us, whether we admit it or not, are running a race. It’s our Christian walk, our walk with Jesus Christ. Sometimes there will be someone who will come along as we are running our race, and he or she will cause us to stumble, to slow down, to get off course. Sometimes there will be that one person who will keep you from being where God wants you to be at and you might not even see it coming. Today, look at the track of your life. Do you have a group of encouragers, chasing along, trying to help you get to where God wants you to be? Do you have people in your life who look out for your best interests and try to equip and empower you? Or do you have someone on the field, walking along, getting you to stumble and slow down? Do you have someone who is trying to enable you to stay where you are at, when God is trying to take you somewhere new? Keep running the race. As Paul, may you finish the race.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 [NLT]
Our words are very powerful. The Bible tells us that our words can kill. We have a choice with regard to the words we speak. We can speak good words, uplifting words. We can speak bad words, words that tear down.
In my lifetime, I have been hurt many times by words. I am sure you can say the same thing. Words kept me from doing things I considered stepping out and doing. Words kept me from writing for many, many years. Words made me think less of myself. Recently, I have witnessed words tear down my child. As a parent, it’s painful to stand on the sidelines and watch it happen. My child, who I see as a great Barnabas to others, was on the receiving end of harsh words rather than encouraging ones. I saw my passionate, free-spirited, sensitive child wanting to quit, wanting to be far away. Despite working so hard, doing so great, beating personal records, sacrificing so much—it didn’t matter. Despite encouraging others to do their best—it didn’t matter. All of the positive accomplishments were blinded by the cruelness of a few.
We all have to face the wrath of some harsh words from time to time. They break us. The devil loves to use them to keep us from doing what will glorify our Father more. Remember today the importance of the words you speak. Do you want to build up or tear down? Do you want to encourage or discourage? Do you want to grow or destroy? Speak words of love. Speak words of truth. Speak words of grace. There is power in your words.
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:21 [NIV]
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God carries us through. He carried the Israelites through the Red Sea and through the Wilderness. Just like He was with Joseph so He is with us. He promises to never leave or forsake. His Word tells us through Him we have victory. He is the love of your life and of mine. Boldly declare His Word today. Walk with confidence. #truth #Bible #GodsWord #Jesus #truelove
The fight was on with the Israelites facing the Amalekites. During the battle, Moses was standing up on a hill. The Bible says that if Moses held his arms up, the Israelites were winning the battle; if Moses put down his arms, the battle changed significantly. For Israel to win, Moses needed to keep up his arms.
It’s hard to keep your arms in the air. Before my aches and pains came along, I remember when holding up my arms wasn’t such a big deal. But I remember that if you keep them up, it starts to be too much. It doesn’t matter if you are holding a feather, as time continues that feather will feel like a large rock. Arms get tired.
When the arms of Moses could no longer be held up by Moses’ own strength, we see something very amazing happen. We see Aaron and Hur step up and help. They found a stone for Moses to sit upon and they both stood beside him and helped to hold up his hands. They understood he couldn’t do it alone—that he needed help—and they stepped in and did what they could to get things done. Today if you see someone who is struggling, perhaps you could step in with the stone. Maybe you can help them to complete the task at hand. Aaron, Hur and Moses had the same goal—to see the Israelites to victory. We as Christians have a shared goal—and we can achieve victory together if we each keep our eyes on Jesus and we each step beside one another to lend support and encouragement when arms feel to heavy to keep lifted.
“Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset.” – Exodus 17:12 [NLT]
My daughter’s run today was different than all the others. She placed better than ever before and she had her fastest time to date. It was such a great moment to watch the outcome of all of her hard work. But I noticed something else different. There were lots of loud cheers coming from the sidelines. She had an entire cheering squad.
People need encouragement. People need to hear kind and supportive words. What was Moses supposed to do with Joshua? Encourage him (Deuteronomy 1:38). What did Barnabas do to Paul by taking a chance on him? Encourage and support him (Acts 9:27). Paul wrote, “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Paul sends Tychicus to the church in Colossae to “encourage (their) hearts” (4:8 NIV). In Hebrews 3 we read of this importance – to “encourage one another daily” (v.13 NIV). In 2 Timothy 4:2, it states: “encourage your people with great teaching” (NLT).
Encouragement matters. Today I encourage you to encourage others. Make a point to encourage someone. Do you see someone doing something awesome? Tell them you have taken notice. Compliment them. Give them a word of encouragement. Do you know someone who is struggling and could use some kind words? Take the time and share them. You never know how much a little encouragement can do in a person’s life. Plant those seeds of encouragement.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29 [NIV]