Sunday, December 31, 2006

Encouragement vs Discouragement & Compassion vs Judgement

I started smoking in high school and I continued while in the U.S. Navy and after getting out of the Navy. I know this is not pleasing to God and I know it hinders my testimony as a believer. It is something I was convicted of after rededicating my life to Christ in 2000.

Sometime shortly after my rededication in 2001, while battling the addiction, we were having dinner with some friends from church. These friends had been with the church a long time and we looked to them as mentors. There was some people smoking in the restaurant and one of them went on a rant of how horrible smoking was. All of it was true, but how did it make me feel? Did they know my battle? No. Were they purposefully trying to hurt my feelings or condemn me? No.

But, I was crushed anyway. How was I to share this struggle with others if this was what Godly people thought about my struggle? I was very hesitant to get help with this from church folk because of fear and condemnation.

I was reminded of this situation by Pastor Dino's recent post. His post was very encouraging and his attitude is one I hope to mirror. I hope to be an encourager and to be compassionate towards other peoples struggles. We live in a critical society. The critics are everywhere. Journalism is not so much reporting the facts anymore than it is using the facts to criticize and judge what's going on around us and their behavior is contagious. I guess its human nature to forget all the issues we have as we point fingers, criticize and judge what OTHERS are going through.

Pastor Dino did a Men's morning bible study on personal holiness this past year. He talked about our reaction to other peoples failures and struggles. He encouraged us to remember that it is only by God's grace that we don't have some issues that others do. It is only by God's grace that our issues & faults aren't publicized like some leaders or public figures.

We should all be encouraged to remember these things. Its hard, especially for new believers or believers who aren't rooted in God's Word, to admit or face up to struggles. It's hard because there is a fear of judgement and discouragement and if Christians criticize and judge "so and so", who's life is open to the public, how would they react to our situation? Probably the same way.

I think its VITAL as believers to create an environment that encourages our brothers and sisters to be open about our struggles so we can get the Godly counsel from the Body of Christ that may help us overcome our issues. To create an environment of humility and knowing our call for help will be met with encouragement and compassion and NOT with discouragement and judgement.


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