Has anyone ever told you how much they love you? Has anyone ever said that you’re beautiful? Have you ever been told that you brighten someone’s day just by being you? If so, count yourself as very fortunate: for it is a rare thing to receive such affirmation and encouragement. That’s not cool with me. The church is body of believers know to the world by their love one for another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
How do we express that love? By complimenting and encouraging each other, by building each other up instead of tearing each other down with gossip and slander. Not by gratifying the vanity of a brother or sister, but by encouraging them in Christ, and affirming their beauty in Christ.
Young women especially are self-conscious about the way they look and devote much effort to their appearance. Trust me, I have three sisters who at one time shared a bathroom with myself and four brothers. Now, I use the word share in the broadest possible sense, the time ratio of how much the girls took versus the guys was rather lopsided despite our advantage of numbers. Why? Because the took more time making themselves, what they thought was beautiful; as far as outward beauty is concerned.
Physical appearance means a great deal to many people, and without encouraging vanity, it is possible to reassure them that they are beautiful. We should encourage each other in physical and spiritual matters. But, love is also exhorting and reproving the brethren when they err from the path of righteousness. This is separate kind of encouragement, one that often hurts and is poorly received. But, if the heart of the person is truly for God and His kingdom, reproof is sober awakening to their situation.
Our job as Christians is to build each other up with our words and actions. To pray for each other and fellowship together in Christ. We are to be a society that the world would covet and desire to join for the sake of the sheer joy that they see in us. Encourage each other. Share the joy of Christ.
As I’m writing this, I am sitting in the cabinets below the kitchen sink… or at least where they will be once we’ve built the counter and such. Just sitting here in an unfinished bus, still raw wood and not much to look at, it makes me realize how poorly I’m practicing my preaching. I fail to encourage the brethren as often as I should. My life is like this bus, it’s not completed yet, much work still need to be accomplished. I’m still raw wood and I can’t see the end result, but if I work at it and diligently follow the plans for building, (the Word of God), I’ll get there some day.
The church was established by God for fellowship of the brethren and for the Body of Christ to unite for the purpose of helping the poor and needy around them and spreading the gospel in their community. We could all do better. We could all encourage each other more. We could all do with a little more loving-kindness.
If someone is insecure in their appearance it means two things:
- That they look to the world to define and to ratify their desire for beauty.
- That they place their identity in the words and actions of Man rather than God.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should complement each other on appearance, especially if it is a big deal to a particular person, then, in love, let them know that inward beauty is greater beauty, and they should strive to be beautiful in the eyes of God instead of the eyes of Man. If a brother is self-conscious about his lack of athletic ability, rather than mock and laugh as the football hits him in the face for the thirtieth time, we should help him up to his feet and encourage him to try harder. However, encouragement without accompaniment is just discouragement in a pretty package. Don’t tell someone to try harder and get better if you do not intend to help them to get better. If you won’t reinforce and back your words with actions and instructions, they are only setting the person up for greater failure and shame.
We are to encourage and uplift one another. Don’t tell someone to find their worth in Christ while telling them they are worthless. Don’t tell someone they aren’t all that good-looking, but it’s okay because inner beauty matters more. Don’t tell someone that they are terrible at sports, but reading God’s Word is a better use of time. Although it all might be true, you are giving them good advice in the most offensive way, therefore they will not listen to you and you have sown discord among the Body of Christ. Speak the truth in love, build each other up with your words and actions. We are the Church, the Body of Christ, and the Body need all its parts in harmony, complementing the functions of each other to perform its tasks in the most effective and efficient way.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist