Are You Welcoming and Encouraging
Dear Members & Attenders,
Thinking about our culture at Trinity – what qualities has Jesus built into us as His family – what has marked us off as unique? There are many, but I want you to think about two:
How do we cultivate a way of living that is inviting? At the center of our work is friendship (it is how our core group formed). We believe deeply that by the Gospel, Jesus has befriended us in a miracle of mercy. He has every reason to reject and condemn us in our sin, yet graciously He has drawn near to us, forgiven us, and worked by His Spirit to change us from the inside out. So His hospitality – His welcoming of us into His home and family – shapes how we treat others. For all who would consider joining us, we offer hospitality. It’s as simple as, “Would you like to be with us as we follow Jesus?” And if so, great! This is fueled by the joy and generosity of the Gospel.
And how do we overcome a prevailing climate of critique? Have you noticed how critical our culture is becoming (At the end of every online article is a comment box that fills mostly with ridicule and venom)? Think about it practically. How much “wrong” did Jesus know about His disciples (as the all-knowing God)? And yet, how much time did He spend correcting His disciples versus investing in them, building into them, encouraging them to rejoice? Because if anyone had cause to critique their followers it was Jesus, and yet He vested His people with hope because of His prevailing grace. By Jesus’ treatment of us, belief in a person is more significant than correction; to see some vestige of God’s work in them is more powerful than advice. Love trumps law. And Hope is more powerful than sin, death and hell because Jesus is greater than everything we’ve done wrong.
So how well do you welcome people into your life and work (motivated by how Jesus has welcomed you)? Or are you picky? Disparaging? Judgmental or condescending of people different from you?
And how hopeful are you? How encouraging are you of the people in your life? What catches your eye? What people do wrong, or what they might possibly have done right? (And I am not saying we don’t correct each other! I’m asking you to evaluate what you emphasize – what is the tone of how you relate?). Want to be enjoyable and fruitful? Ask Jesus to help you to be welcoming and encouraging.
Things to pray for:
- Give thanks for Jesus’ mercy to you in spite of ALL that’s still wrong with you. Thank the Lord for His patience with you, and His abiding love even when you’re far from being glorified.
- Who in your life is encouraging? What do they do? How do they speak? What do they focus on? Pray, asking the Lord to help you to learn from them.
- Who in your life is abidingly critical? Pray for them, asking the Lord to help you to learn from them (see 2 Samuel 16:5-13 as David listened even to a man raving at him) even if you don’t imitate them. And ask Him to help you by His Spirit to return blessing for cursing, love for ridicule.
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11 & Hebrews 10:24-25. Ask the Lord to help you – by His Spirit in your heart – to be encouraging to your fellow believers.
Tim Rice, Lead Pastor & Director of Church Planting
Trinity Presbyterian Church
301 N. Florida Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33801