Discouraging Encouragement

discourage-encourage-stuart-milesEncouragement is a must! No one can live day to day without receiving some kind of encouragement in some kind of way. Some of us see it as a necessity. Why? Because we are a needy people. Because not everything in life is easy. Because God made us dependant on each other. And there’s nothing wrong with being a needy person going through a rough patch who needs someone to come along side them with a kind word or gesture.

Encouragement comes in different ways. There is nothing like face to face encouragement; however, technology affords us the opportunity to be encouraging to someone whom we have never met and whom is living hundreds of miles away. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the encourager, their well meaning words or actions of encouragement can come across as discouraging.

I am a member of a few groups on Facebook. They range in topics from tips on being more productive to praying for others to fighting temptation. A few weeks ago, someone in the group about fighting temptation posted a picture that was rather disturbing. Mind you, the picture will not be displayed here. However, to give you a general idea of what it entailed – it was a face composed of various body parts arranged in a manner to depict the face of a demon…or possibly even Satan. I won’t get into any more details of the picture, but let’s just say that posting it could have easily backfired into leading someone into temptation, vice the intent of leading someone from temptation.

I am sure the brother who posted the picture had good intentions. When I commented with my thoughts on the picture, he responded that if someone was able to look at that picture and be “turned on” by it, they were “indulging” in their sinful lusts. Honestly, I appreciate the brother’s willingness to be an encourager to those whom are struggling with the sin of lust. However, as I explained to him (as best I could via social media) that picture could do more harm than good.

Bottom line – the picture was pornographic.

It is crucial for us to be discerning in our encouragement. We must understand that the depravity of man has effects far more reaching than we could never imagine. We must understand that despite our belief that a certain sin in our life seems to be under control, that same sin could be running rampant in the life of a fellow believer. We cannot assume that since we are no longer a slave to a specific sin, that a brother or sister has had the same victory in Christ as we have. Overcoming certain besetting sins is a process that take longer for others.

Encouragement via social media can be tricky. Encouragement face to face can be intimidating. Either way – encouragement is needed. Life doesn’t get any easier and times are only getting worse. You never know what an uplifting word or a simple hug will do for someone’s day. On the other hand, if we are not discerning in our words and/or mindful of our actions, they could back fire and not do the good we hoped.

Be discerning in giving encouragement – a person outlook on their situation depends on it.

 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness,” – Hebrews 3:13

Prayer Point: That our encouragement would be edifying to, not only the person whom we are encouraging, but to all who may see and hear how we encourage.

Question: Has anyone ever tried to encourage you, but unintentionally discouraged you? How did you handle it?

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2 thoughts on “Discouraging Encouragement”

  1. Great article! I believe a lot times we do more harm than intended because we did not pray for discernment or even seek God on how to handle it. I’m thankful that I have grown enough that most wrong encouragement I’m able to ignore. Some I have to address in hopes I don’t offend. Love your prayer point! Right on!

    1. Thanks, sis. I know I have done unintentional harm with my efforts to encourage. Thank God for grace and His ability to fix my wrongs. Thanks for your input! It’s always good to hear from you. Grace and Peace.

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