What a precious gift encouragement is. I can remember moments when the right word at the right time was instrumental in breathing fresh perspective, courage, and hope into challenging seasons in my life – even if I wasn’t necessarily deserving of that encouraging word.
I love how Philippians 4:5 is paraphrased in The Message: “Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”
That’s quite a charge, isn’t it?
But what if we are not exactly seeing eye-to-eye with someone at the moment? What if we do not feel like getting along with someone and moving forward past a hurt or difference of opinion?
In Philippians 4:1-5, Paul exhorts the body of believers (and us) with the answer in a very Paul-like fashion, essentially saying: “Girls, it’s time to let go of the differences and get along! Jesus is coming soon. Let people see that you can rise above differences and get back to the Kingdom work you’ve been called to do.”
The reason we need to learn how to be of one accord with each other is so we can be fully effective in sharing the gospel of Christ with the world around us. People are watching us, and they’re looking to see if what we say we believe really holds up in our actions.
I’m sure it looks silly (and even hypocritical) to people who observe Christians being so quick to argue, criticize, take sides, make fun of, or even label fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as heretics, all the while claiming to walk in the love of God. How can we expect anyone to be drawn to be part of a community of believers like that?
It weakens our effectiveness, which is why Paul wanted us to remember how powerful it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity (Psalm 133:1). We can’t afford to allow disagreements or arguments to permanently divide us.
It doesn’t mean we excuse sin, or become a doormat to others, or withhold biblical correction in the right time and way. But ultimately, when we remember we are of the same spirit in Jesus Christ, it should make us want to work to stop battling with each other and recognize the real enemy – the devil – who is at work to discourage the work of God in our lives.
Let’s not look at one another as competition, or a problem, or even as “that-crazy-person-over-there,” but as part of the same team, even with the differences we have.
Let’s be people who understand that when we enlarge, make room for, encourage, and speak to the gift and call on each other’s lives, the company of women (and men!) on the earth is able to function and flourish the way God designed. It will make our testimonies of faith all the more inviting and effective to the world around us.
God is well able to deal with those who need correction, and most of the time, He hasn’t asked us to point to the faults or shortcomings of others. If we will allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in a person’s life, and continue to work on our own hearts by cultivating gentleness, forebearance, mercy, forgiveness, and encouragement, we’ll be amazed at how He is able to work things together for our good and for His glory.
Don’t underestimate how much a timely word of encouragement can bring hope and grace and courage to a person who may be struggling in ways you aren’t aware. There are plenty of people who will be quick to point out what’s wrong in others, but we need people who will be quick to point out the good things, the God-things, in life and in other people.
We really are in this faith journey together. We may have differences of opinion or perspectives, but we’re on the same side. Ultimately, none of us have it all perfectly correct. We are all works-in-progress, people who are looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
If we are going to do this Kingdom work in a way that brings glory to God, we need to make it as clear as we can that we, as believers, are on the same side and that we are committed to building the Kingdom of God and sharing the good news of Jesus to the people in our world.
So, my friend, just in case no one has made this clear to you in your life, let me be one to say, “I’m on your side, I’m praying for you, and I’m cheering you on! In Jesus name!”
Andrea Howey is a hand lettering artist from Dallas, Texas. She uses hand lettering to share her heart and the message of hope, truth, and faith found in the Word of God. Her aim is for people to be encouraged in heart, strengthened in faith, and above all, point people to know Jesus personally and intimately.
You can find Andrea and her beautiful handwritten words of encouragement on Instagram at: @andrearhowey.
Week 4 Challenge: Take time this week to evaluate your relationships in the body of Christ. Is there someone you need to reach out to, making it as clear as you can that you’re on their side and that you want to work with them and not against them? With unity as your goal, seek forgiveness and give encouragement where needed.
Week 4 Reading Plan:
Week 4 Memory Verse:
the Lord wants for me to rejoice in ALL circumstances. When I’m unable due to my mixed emotions, I start counting my blessings! As soon as I do, I realize the many reasons I can rejoice in the Lord. He is so faithful indeed? I woke up this morning, enjoyed a cup of coffee, and I’m ready for today? just for waking up in the morning is a huge blessing so I plan on rejoicing for the rest of my days. Praising Jesus for loving me so much ?
Oh dear Adriana. Yes we are to rejoice. God bless you dear.
What a beautiful reminder to approach life and difficult situations with a heart of gratitude and praise for our God. I love this! Thank you for sharing!
WOW, thank you for this timely word. It was not only encouraging but a reminder to turn my eyes back to myself. That God has charged me to be His example to the hurting not just to the world BUT my brothers and sisters. We can be on the same side and not necessarily agree on everything. Thank you. And so you too are encouraged know I am on your side.
Yes dear Vicky, it’s so encouraging to know that we are on the same side. God help us to build this. Amen.
Thank you for sharing. It’s a reminder we all need, and the beautiful part is that by His grace we can indeed walk it out. Cheering for you, my sister.
With love, Andrea
Sometimes I don’t understand the reason things happen. I was so excited to be able to do something today and I just received a text, right before I started this devotional, saying that I could not do it. I was crushed! But I saw these verses”Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; and again I say, Rejoice”. It was like God was reminding me to rejoice in Him. He is still in control. I just need to trust Him even more to help us financially. Thank you, Jesus, for your Word of encouragement today. I love you, Jesus!
Tammy darling. You are in his hands and he is seeing to it, you get and receive all you need. God bless you dear.
That is hard when discouraging news comes. I’m praying for your heart to be encouraged today, your countenance to be lifted, and hope to flood your heart with the reminder that God has not forgotten you in the place you are. He is faithful, and He will never leave you without support.
A scripture that came to mind as I read your words is Hebrews 13:5-6 in the Amplified Bible version. I hope it encourages your heart:
“…for God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down (relax My hold on you)! Assuredly not! So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6, AMPC
With love, Andrea
Thanks so much! That did encourage me.
Thank you! I know God blesses me everyday. I just need to trust Him even more.
Now this ?. It’s been in my heart, we ought to be our brothers keepers since we are the body of Christ (His bride) if one part ails, the whole is affected. We need to love and walk in stride with the Holy Spirit so that many will be reconciled back to the father. Its not about uniformity but unity.
Sometimes our opinions are biased based on our culture or on our perception of how people should live,.Before passing judgement or pointing fingers, we should always pause and ask what is God’s perspective on this.Man looks on the outward but God sees the inner man (our motives).
Flowers bloom, they live the gardening to the gardener and fertlisation to the bees.
May the Lord guide us in all we do so that we are found in the right position?
Andrea, A timely word well needed in this world as satan tries to destroy Christians and cause us to question not only our faith but our Maker. Thank you for your words of encouragement and uplifting as we press forward to the mark. Bless You
I shared with another friend on this sight that The thing I was reminded of I used to reach out to and write or text a letter to a preteen or teenager that I had coached or had in my daycare and I tell them how great they were and remind them of their great qualities and potential. There was always a positive response. I need to reach out to these kids again. You never know who might desperately need those words of encouragement
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yes we are rejoin especialy when we are knowing to count the blessing from God.
Yes, I agree with you.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Thank you very much. Gbu.?