Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spiritual Gifts - Encouragement

This is a series put together to examine the spiritual gifts discussed in Romans 12:3-8. The focus passage is as follows:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Definition: Encouragement, often also called exhortation, is the gift of motivating, comforting, consoling, counseling, guiding, and over-all cheerleading. These are the people who inspire others to be what God has called them to be and mature into their relationship with Jesus. Sometimes this is through boosting one’s confidence while other times it is more of a soothing role. These people really “toy” will people’s emotions to promote other’s into their roles in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Models This Gift: Jesus encouraged his disciples with promising to prepare a place for them in John 14:1-4. He later encouraged many people, including the woman at the well in John 8 to leave behind their lives of sin.

Other Biblical examples of this Gift: Barnabas, was the very "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36) and acted out this role to Paul and Mark. Judas and Silas were also encouragers in Acts 15.

Strengths: These people are typically sensitive to the needs of others and are quick to offer words of encouragement. They are people-persons and optimistic.

Pitfalls: There is a temptation to give a person a “quick-fix” and not truly listen to their problems. This is not in congruence with the body of Christ and needs to be avoided so that relationships can be the focus of the encouragement.

Ideas of How to Work for God using this Gift: Great for working with those in a counseling role or even as part of the welcoming committee. Mentoring others would be a wise and helpful place to serve as an encourager. Visiting those who have become inactive would be a wonderful outreach ministry opportunity.

Do You Have This Gift? (ref The Resurgence - Spiritual Gifts)
  • Do people seek you out for advice and encouragement?
  • Do you enjoy walking with someone through difficulties?
  • Are you attracted to those who are hurting and needy?
  • Are you patient with people?
  • Would you rather speak personally with someone about their problems rather than send them to someone else for help?
  • Do you find it easy to express joy in the presence of those who are suffering?

Summary: Often these are the people who have been the biggest influence in the lives of people and have had a major role in them finding a relationship with Christ as they see God’s love in action.

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