We are in the eighth month of the Encourager’s Devotional Series. So, this might be a good time to ask a few questions: How are you doing in the goal to become a more encouraging person? What have you learned about the ministry of encouragement? What have you applied from what you’re learning?
Do you remember how good it felt each time you graduated from one level of schooling to another? It was fun to think about all you had accomplished. And it was exciting, even if a little intimidating, to think of the new things ahead in the future. You were growing up!
It used to be (and still is in many cases) that churches had “Promotion Sunday” sometime in late August or early September to commemorate the passing of children from one level of Sunday School to the next. But for some reason, we stop thinking about being promoted after people are out of the “youth” category in the church. It’s as if simply by being an adult one no longer needs to think about advancing any further in their faith. As if advancing just comes naturally.
This is not the biblical picture, however. In Hebrews 5:11-6:12, certain Christians are told that they are still in elementary school in their spirituality. Meanwhile, in 1 Timothy 4:12, a younger person is said to have matured enough in the faith to be an example to the older Christians around him. So, “promotion” in God’s kingdom isn’t about age level, or even about how long you’ve been a Christian. It’s about how you are moving along and maturing in Christlikeness.
Hebrews 5:14 describes the maturing Christian as one who uses the meat of the Word of God. When was the last time you used the Word to check your level of progression? Have you taken texts like Romans 12, Galatians 5:22-28, or 2 Peter 1:5-11 as “report cards” and given yourself an evaluation on your spiritual progress?
Hebrews 6:1-2 also describes the “baby” Christian as one content to simply hear good lessons on “elementary” things like how to be saved, heaven and hell, and how to stay away from sin. Christianity is more than just being sure you don’t do all the bad things so you’re sure to go to heaven. It is about maturing in doing the right things, or producing fruit.
Some good questions to ask yourself regarding spiritual maturity might be:
- Am I more concerned about being fed, or about feeding others?
- Am I involved in the church more for what I get out of it or for what I can give to it for others?
Now, I know there must be balance. We all need to be fed, and we all benefit from being involved in the church. And the last thing I want to do is encourage any kind of legalistic, works-based religion. But somewhere along the way in our walk with the Lord, we must focus on becoming servants to others. We must become producers and not just consumers (Hebrews 6:7-8).
And that is exactly what this ministry is about. Be encouraged in your work of encouraging because …
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end.” (Hebrews 6:10,11 – NIV)
Suggestions for encouraging someone this month:
- Perhaps you could be of assistance to a family that needs school supplies or clothing for their children as they head back to school. Or plan a school supplies drive at your church.
- If your church does have promotion Sunday, send cards out to the children and/or to their parents.
- Ask a Sunday School teacher if you could help throw a kick-off party in their class. Or, see if there’s some other way you could assist them.
- Find someone who’s at the same level of spiritual maturity as yourself and see if they would like to become accountability partners with you. As accountability partners you would help each other evaluate where you are spiritually, help each other set goals for maturing, and then ask each other on a regular basis how you’re doing with your goals. Prayer for each other would also be a very important part of this relationship.
- If you know a college student who’s going away from home, put them on your list to mail notes and packages. College students love mail and they are at a time in life when it’s very important to have connections to home and church families.