So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)
My freshman year of high school, was excited, and a little surprised, to learn that I had made the varsity basketball team. This was going to be my shot to learn some good teamwork, get coached up and better my skillset, and show off my crazy good basketball skills (OK, I was a little cocky). Like any other small school, we only had one coach. He was going to coach the girls team, so he brought on an additional coach to coach our team. His name was Charles (I changed his name to protect the guilty). He was, to say the least, obsessed with basketball. He knew his stuff, and he coached us hard. There was just one small problem with his coaching style when it came to me. Since I was skinny and the youngest player on the team (I was the only freshman), Charles loved to make fun of me; not just about basketball, but everything. He dissed my looks. He made fun of the way I walked. He used to say my name in a high-pitched voice. And, so on. He did this in front of the team in practices and the crowd when we played games. The only reason I didn’t quit the team? Some of my teammates would encourage me to ignore him. Though they never stood up for me against the coach, they always rallied around me after I got a tongue lashing to help pick me back up. They encouraged me to keep going.
When it comes to the church, there are many people who feel like I did that first season on the basketball court. They are fed up with the gossip, the side-eye, the ridicule, which are coming, unfortunately, from those within the church. The leading reason people give for walking away from the Body of Christ is that the people made them miserable.
Family, we’ve got to be better coaches and teammates (me included). We’ve got to make sure we’re lifting one another up. This world beats us down with endless ridicule, stress, comparisons, and just plain meanness. When it comes to the family of God, we are called to be different. The apostle Paul, in our verse today, reminds us to, “encourage each other and build each other up.” In other words, be the love of God to those you encounter.
Today, and every day, pray that God will give you the opportunity to encourage someone. Look for that chance during the day, and seize it. Speak, act, do.