In response to all he has done for us, let us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good. Hebrews 10:24
There's a price tag for being a people-builder: It requires unselfishness.
But why should we do it? "In response to all he has done for us, let us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good." (Hebrews 10:24)
At some point, the Romans confuse the word "cristos" with "crestos." Cristos means Christ; Crestos, in Latin, means kindness. In a roundabout way, that confusion can teach us something: Christians should be the kindest of all people.
I want to give you an objective -- and that is to be a people-builder not just for this holiday season, but for the rest of your life. Begin by writing down the name of one person you want to help build up, then stop and pray.
Ask God to show you that person's strengths. We always build on our strengths, not on our weaknesses. Write down whatever strengths you've seen in him or her in the past.
Then tell that person, "I've been thinking about you because I really care about you. I wanted to share with you- from my viewpoint- the strengths I see in your life because those strengths determine what God wants us to do in our lives."
Imagine the impact you could have if you would commit yourself to being a people-builder; if you determined to bring out the best in everyone you know; to help people grow and to become what God made them to be.
Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24
Your character is essentially the sum of your habits; it is how you habitually act. The Bible says, "Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).
God uses his Word, people, and circumstances to mold us. All three are indispensable for character development. God's Word provides the truth we need to grow, God's people provide the support we need to grow, and circumstances provide the environment to practice Christlikeness.
If you study and apply God's Word, connect regularly with other believers, and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances, I guarantee you will become more like Jesus.
Many people assume all that is needed for spiritual growth is Bible study and prayer. But some issues in life will never be changed by Bible study or prayer alone. God uses people. He usually prefers to work through people rather than perform miracles, so that we will depend on each other for fellowship. He wants us to grow together.
In many religions, the people considered to be the most spiritually mature and holy are those who isolate themselves from others in mountaintop monasteries, uninfected by contact with other people.
But this is a gross misunderstanding. Spiritual maturity is not a solitary, individual pursuit!
You cannot grow to Christlikeness in isolation. You must be around other people and interact with them. You need to be a part of a church and community.
Why? Because true spiritual maturity is all about learning to love like Jesus, and you can't practice being like Jesus without being in relationship with other people.
Remember that during this Christmas season, when your family or friends challenge your ability to respond like Jesus!!
Remember, it's all about love - loving God and loving others.
"Your generosity ... not only provides for the needs of God's people, but also produces prayers of thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9:12)
When we're generous with each other, we thank God for each other and we're drawn closer to each other.
One of my friends learned the connection between generosity and community when one of his neighbors came by to borrow a ladder. A few weeks later, my friend discovered his neighbor already had a ladder, but the neighbor borrowed one as a way of building a relationship.
My friend said, "When my neighbor borrowed my stuff, it made me feel like I was needed, and I liked that feeling. Now I do the same thing with other neighbors. For instance, my neighbor, Roger, has a Shop Vac, and I borrow it every Friday to clean my car. Roger even leaves it out for me on Fridays. I told Roger the other day that I could buy my own Shop Vac, but I liked the interaction with him. He told me not to buy one because he liked the interaction, too."
The Bible says, "Your heart will be wherever your treasure is." (Matthew 6:21) Wherever I put my time, my money, my effort, my energy, wherever I invest myself - that's what's going to attract me.
For some of you, your heart may be in your home. That's where you're putting your time, your money, and your energy - fixing it up. Or your heart may be in your work. That's where you're putting your time, your money and your energy. Or it may be in a hobby. That's where you're putting your time, your money and your energy. Wherever your treasure is, your heart's going to be there.
So, when I'm generous with you or with the poor or with anybody, that's where my heart tends to go. And every time I give to God, it draws my heart closer to God, and every time I give to you, it draws my heart closer to you. Giving or generosity creates community.
The first Christians were famous for their generosity. "The community of believers... shared everything in common." (Acts 4: 32) They were a family; they shared it all: 'What's mine is yours, and you can share it with me.' It was voluntary. Christianity says, "What's mine is yours and you can share it with me."
When you're a parent, and you have little kids in your home, you enjoy watching them share with each other? When you see that your kids are unselfish, you're very happy with that.
And God is the same way.
When God looks down on us and He sees us being generous with each other He says, "That's My boy! That's My girl! They're doing what I want them to do." Because God is generous, and He wants us to become like Him.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30
Most translations of Matthew 11:28-30 refer to the easy "yoke" of Jesus-"Take my yoke upon you..." But Eugene Peterson's paraphrase above captures the spirit of Jesus' teaching.
Jesus is looking for companions of compassion. Compassionate friends who will love others in the same way Jesus loves us. Jesus wants us to journey with him, get to know him, not run off to do things for him while we ignore him.
"Aren't you tired and burned out on all that religious stuff, anyway?" Jesus, in a sense, asks. "Look, come walk with me, and I'll help you get back your life, your real purpose. And even though it'll require some hard-very hard-work, you'll be energized by it because you'll be living a life of abundance. You'll be doing exactly what our Father created you to do, and more importantly, you'll be exactly who I want you to be."
There's still a chance Jesus may ask you to be a yoked-up plow-horse in service to God, but Jesus is more likely asking you to join his school of Christ as a student taking on the teacher's yoke.
This Christmas you can become a companion of compassion with Christ.
Jesus says, "Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29-30).
This Christmas season, I want to encourage you to become a people-builder. It is a gift you can give someone that will last forever.
The Bible encourages us to do this in Romans 15:2, where it says, "We should consider the good of our neighbor and build up his character."
The key to building up people is kindness -- giving them what they need and not what they deserve. When you consider the way Jesus built up people, He did three things: challenged, encouraged, and spoke honestly.
Today, we’ll look at how Jesus challenged people to be all God made them to be. God doesn’t want you to waste your life!
Challenge your family and friends to live beyond themselves and to discover their strengths and abilities. God has given each of us some special abilities, and he wants us to use them to help each other. We’re to pass on to others God's many kinds of blessings.
We all need somebody who will help us discover our gifts and who will challenge us to develop, strengthen, and use them. You can play a critical role in this way by helping the ones you love to discover their strengths and abilities, and then challenging them to use them.
And, help them understand how special their gifts are – that we will all miss out on a blessing if they don’t use the gifts God has given them. It’s like a singer who never sings; we miss out on the blessing that would come from hearing the voice. We are meant to be a blessing to others.
We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith. Romans 15:1
Jesus encouraged people, and he told those who are strong in faith to make a point of encouraging others in their faith: "We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith." (Romans 15:1)
This Christmas season encourage the people around you.
For one thing, we all need confidence. When you know that someone believes in you, it brings out your best. Jesus did this with the Apostle Peter. "Petros," Peter's name, meant pebble. But Jesus said, "Pebble, you're going to be a rock. I'm giving you a new name."
When Jesus said that to Peter, the apostle was anything but a rock. He was Mr. Impulsive, Mr. Foot-in-Mouth. But Jesus didn't tell him what he was - He told him what he could be. He gave him confidence to live up to his potential.
We all need encouragement. Over the years, I've kept an Encouragement File. Every time anybody writes me a note, a card, or a letter, I file it. Even if it's mildly encouraging- like "Better luck next time!" - or- "You tried on that sermon, but good try!" - it still gets filed.
Then, on days when I'm discouraged and down and tired, I get out the Encouragement File, and I read through all the letters and cards that I've collected.
When you give encouragement, it needs to be genuine. So, give from the heart and with sincerity. Encouragement also needs to be regular- don't be stingy with your encouragement.
And encouragement needs to be specific. Instead of saying, "I enjoyed the meal," say, "I can tell you put a lot of effort into this meal and the seasoning you chose was perfect."
Instead of saying, "You did a good job," say, "I noticed you handled that angry customer with tact and you maintained your cool under pressure."
Jesus shows us that real friends care enough to confront. Even when it's painful, they'll tell you the truth. They won't let you waste your life in silence: "A friend means well even when he hurts you." Proverbs 27:6
I've found that correcting another person in a loving way is powerful. Done the right way, it builds people up. The difference between the right and the wrong way is your attitude. If all you're doing is pointing out faults, then stop. The purpose has to be to correct, not to condemn.
You need to ask, "What's my motive in this? Am I correcting him for my benefit or for his benefit?"
A lot of times we want to correct people just because they're being jerks and they're hassling us. We think, "If they would stop being such a jerk, my life would be easier."
That's the wrong motive.
Instead, follow Ephesians 4:15, which says, "Speak the truth in love." So the key to proper correction: Affirm the person; then correct the behavior.
PurposeDriven.com by Rick Warren and Jon Walker, editor of the Purpose Driven Life