I had to chuckle the other evening as I drove home. I came across a deer-crossing street sign and someone had put a red nose on the deer. I said, “Look, it’s Rudolph,” as I passed by the sign. Then I pondered over what some may say when they see the same sign. I know that the sign is the property of the local government, and so technically the nose could be seen as defacement of property. Legal actions could be taken against the person who chose to apply the nose to the sign. At the same time, I found it comical. Please do not get me wrong—I am not in any way saying it’s okay to deface or damage property. What I am trying to express is how I saw this and had a laugh at the cute, comical image.
Over the years, I have found myself on a roller coaster ride with grace. When I was younger, I was happy about grace. I was glad that God gave me grace. I wanted grace. I was stingy and wanted to keep all the grace I could handle. As I got older, I started to learn more about the Law. I started to find myself a bit proud. I started to think better of myself. I sat myself up high. I was smug. I felt somewhat superior to some others. This grew as I attended university and increased my knowledge of the Bible. It’s interesting how we can grow in our knowledge of the Word of God, and separate ourselves so much from grace, because we stand on knowledge. We hold tightly to Scripture, but so tightly that we miss the common thread of love. We like the feeling of being right, being justified, being a child of God. We miss the “all fall short” and the “love others” and “honor everyone.” We become a Pharisee and can be blind to it for a long time, even years later.
As the years pass by, I slowly find myself more broken. I find myself understanding grace more. I find myself needing grace more. I look back on the person I used to be and see how God has changed me. He has shown me that I was sometimes a stumbling block when I should have been a bridge. He has reminded me that the grace I receive, is the same grace that I should pour out to others. He opens my eyes to love simply and deeply—to not make life so difficult and draining. I have long ago realized that the greatest threat to my relationship with God is not Satan; it’s me. I am a long way from the follow-the-rules-down-to-the-last-letter kid I once was in school. I have learned to live, to love, to laugh. I have learned that a Rudolph nose, despite the defacement of property, is funny. I have decided to love anyway, to laugh often, to forgive freely. Life is short. We need a few more Rudolph noses and a lot more love. We desperately all need Jesus. Oh, how sweet the sound of His amazing grace!
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:7 [ESV]
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24 [ESV]
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]
You might be happy right now, but someone may not share in that happiness. You might be “skipping about and laughing with joy” and someone might be “filled with contempt.” You might be dancing, giggling, leaping with joy, but others may fling insults at you, shake their heads or speak judgmental words.
When you know Christ, you are filled with a joy that no one else can understand unless they too know Christ. There are moments in life that do not scream happy. You might not be able to make the bill payments. Your car might have left you sit. You may have just had surgery and daily life is difficult with your recovery. And yet you are living with this joy that people don’t understand. They do not get why you are happy, joyous, positive, upbeat, glowing, etc. They don’t get it because they do not know Who has filled you with the joy.
David danced, laughed, leaped—Michal didn’t get it. She did not have a strong relationship with the Lord like David did so it did not make sense to her. When Michal spoke in judgment against him, David responded, “I will celebrate before the LORD” (2 Samuel 6:21 NIV). You, too, should keep celebrating before the Lord, despite those who cannot grasp the reason. Don’t let someone’s inability to understand stop you from celebrating the Lord’s presence in your life.
“But as the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David skipping about and laughing with joy, she was filled with contempt for him.” – 1 Chronicles 15:29 [NLT]
“But as the Ark of the LORD entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she was filled with contempt for him.” – 2 Samuel 6:16 [NLT]
My daughter always gets me laughing. One day we went to get some ice cream from the local Dairy Queen and I barely could leave the drive thru area. My daughter read the cup and it said, “Flip over.” This was some sort of marketing thing Dairy Queen did where they flip over the cup for a moment to show that the Blizzard is made properly.
My daughter took the ice cream and turned it upside down. My son found it hilarious and took out his phone to take a quick photo and my daughter; oblivious to what could happen, she posed for the photo, continuing to hold the ice cream upside down. The drive thru attendant stared puzzled. I was concerned that the ice cream I just purchased was going to spill all over the interior of the car. What was she doing?
My son soon told my daughter that she misunderstood what “flip over” meant, that you aren’t supposed to just hold it like that so long. The workers do a quick flip over. We all had a good laugh. It took awhile to leave the area because I couldn’t stop laughing. It provided a good laugh but also a warning of caution. It is so easy to read something and take it one way, when it is meant to be taken another way. This is true for many things including God’s Word. It is important to read Scripture in context and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You may find yourself flipping over a cup, when you should simply turn it around.
“But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14 [NLT]