Spiritual people want to encourage religious people to act in ways that bring a good light on the Good News and on Jesus Christ. The reality is that religious people want to suppress spiritual people. It can be very discouraging to try encouraging.

Sometimes we need a reminder about how to be the encouragers that God wants. So here is what God led Paul to write on this:

Our cactus has flowers that last only hours, but their beauty is not pointless

Our cactus has flowers that last only hours, but their beauty is not pointless

“When we encouraged you, we didn’t use unethical schemes, corrupt practices, or deception. Rather, we are always spreading the Good News. God trusts us to do this because we passed his test. We don’t try to please people but God, who tests our motives. As you know, we never used flattery or schemes to make money. God is our witness! We didn’t seek praise from people, from you or from anyone else” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 God’s Word).

These words particularly point to all those people who earn a living from religion. Paul did not take money for himself from those he served. The Spirit guided him to avoid that because there is always a temptation lurking to make decisions and perform in such a way as to preserve the income. Jesus also warned about this risk, saying, “No one can serve two masters. He will hate the first master and love the second, or he will be devoted to the first and despise the second. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24 // Luke 16:13 God’s Word) .

Volunteers need to hear these words because sometimes it is tempting to flatter or scheme to make it look like success exceeds the facts, just to make you look good (to other people!). We all need to hear Paul’s words ringing loudly, “I, a prisoner in the Lord, encourage you to live the kind of life which proves that God has called you” (Ephesians 4:1 God’s Word).

Eternal quality encouragement remains honest, open, as gentle as can be but as critical as necessary. All will be done under Paraclete to honour our Saviour. People need compliments to get motivated, but in serving Jesus reprimands have a place as well. Do all in love which leads to a focus on what people need, not your public image.

“So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation {of your faith}. Always excel in the work you do for the Lord. You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless” (1 Corinthians 15:58 God’s Word).