Need Some Christian Encouragement? (Carlson)

Need some encouragement in life? Don’t look within! Look outside yourself to God’s promises and truths. Here’s how Lindsey Carlson put it:

Encouragement based on self-confidence has produced a world of underencouraged Christians. Our confidence is too often in our own desires and feelings, both of which are subject to change. When our confidence is shaken, our heart grows quickly discouraged and we are far less likely to endure the trials set before us. We lose the ability to stand firm, fight the good fight, and run the race set before us. But in order for encouragement to hearten, urge, stimulate, and foster courage in the heart of the Christian, the message must be applicable for us personally and reliable when our feelings aren’t.

Only God is able to completely satisfy our desire for encouragement because only he is capable of fully understanding every desire of our heart and knowing how to lovingly provide exactly what we need. Think about how difficult it is to encourage others when we aren’t always sure how or when we fear we might hurt instead of help. None of us can fully understand the desires of our own hearts or the hearts of others. To make matters even more complicated, our desires are a moving target.

We must be encouraged by words that do not change or fail; we require the encouragement of God’s word that ‘proves true’ and ‘is a shield for all those who take refuge in him’ (Ps. 18:30). As worldly philosophies in our culture attempt to convince us we are good enough on our own and that happiness and joy are our own responsibility, we need God’s truth to free us from the weight of this oppressive cultural lie. Christian, there is freedom in recognizing you are a limited creature who relies first and foremost on the care of your limitless Creator.

…As Christians, when we encounter various messages meant for our encouragement, we should be able to clearly discern two distinguishing characteristics. The Christian’s encouragement must be: 1) Filled with God’s promises. 2) Given for the encouragement of God’s people by grace through Christ. God’s encouragement frees us from the burdensome weight of our own feelings in times of discouragement and when we lack confidence….

Lindsey Carlson, A Better Encouragement, p.39-40.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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