Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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During an opportunity I had to work with my son on some Native American youth outreaches, one of our attractions that night was various basketball competitions. Alex was one of those who showed up to compete in the 3-point shooting contest. Alex is probably about 12, and he appears to have Down's Syndrome. But he doesn't let any Special Ed limitations slow him down. Alex plunges right into things. It's neat to watch. Now, his shooting didn't win any prizes, but his attitude sure would have. In fact, later in the evening, I saw this very special scene at the far end of the gym. Our son, Brad, who is a moose, was holding Alex in his arms and letting him shoot baskets from that improved altitude. Alex was loving it. But the best part came a few minutes later. I glanced down the gym floor and I saw a similar scene – except this time it was Alex lifting up a boy smaller than he was so that little guy could shoot some baskets! Wow!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Lifting Them Higher."
Actually, isn't that what we're all supposed to be about - lifting other people up so they can shoot higher than they've been able to shoot before? One of the places where God calls us to that kind of lifestyle is in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 5:12. "Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone."
Now he's saying here, first of all, give a lift to the spiritual leaders in your life by saying thanks, by complimenting them, by offering to do something that would lighten their load. And then give a lift to those who are quiet and timid, maybe the ones who often get overlooked or ignored. When you have the spirit of Jesus, you look for those who are on the edges, who tend to be left out, and you lift them up by showing interest, by including them, by building their confidence.
God also tells us to encourage the weak, the people who, on the surface, may not seem to have much going for them. But if you give them a lift, they're the people who can find the strength to do what they've never done before.
Actually, we're supposed to be lifting everyone around us. The Bible says the only words that should be coming out of our mouths are those that are "helpful for building others up." That's Ephesians 4:29. If there's one thing a follower of Christ should be known for, it's for being an encourager. Are you? Most people are suffering from a huge encouragement deficit, with a basketful of what's wrong with them and very little of what's right with them. It's not exactly "home, home on the range" out there, where "seldom is heard a discouraging word."
No, we need to dedicate each new day to consciously, intentionally lift up the people we work with, the people we live with, go to school with, even those we just meet. And church, well that should be a place where everyone comes away having been lifted up by someone. When our son picked up young Alex, Alex was able to do what otherwise would have been out of his reach. That's the kind of effect you can have on the people around you as an encourager. Did you ever notice, encourage - you put courage into somebody when you encourage them.
So be the one who sets the tone of encouragement. Somebody has to start it. How about you? And don't be surprised if it starts a chain of encouragement. As I witnessed in that gym that night, when somebody gets lifted up, they feel like lifting someone else up! Now look what you've started!