For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 14

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2

Jesus prayed for you and me. Specifically, He prayed for us. In John 17, we get the unique privilege to read one of Jesus’ most important prayers, which He offered up to God on our behalf. At the heart of this prayer was a petition that we might experience wholeness and unity in our relationship with God and with one another. The most important thing to Jesus was that all believers would be one with Him and one with each other. It should come as no surprise then that Paul also focuses on unity as a key Kingdom value. Unity with God comes before unity with each other. In this passage, Paul outlines four benefits to unity with God.

4 Benefits to Unity with God –
  1. Encouragement in Christ: This word for encouragement is unique, because in the original Greek it contains two meanings: One, “to comfort” and two, “to spur on.” Consider for a moment the difference between velvet and sand paper. Velvet is soft and smooth and feels good on our skin. Sandpaper is rough and coarse and is useful for smoothing out rough edges. Similarly, the encouragement we receive from Christ can come to us in each of these two forms-
  • Comfort: We all can go through seasons when we become very discouraged, and even depressed. In these difficult times, what we need from Jesus is the tenderness of comfort that only He can offer. Think of the many examples in which Jesus offered a gentle and compassionate word to a distraught and downcast soul. Even Peter, the bold and brash disciple came to learn that Jesus’ words of gentle comfort can be the key to internal healing and letting go of the past (see John 21:15-17). Peter himself teaches us, “Cast your burdens upon Jesus, He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
  • Spur On: What does it mean “to spur on?” The word conjures the image of a horse needing to be spurred on to run faster by a kick in the ribs. It may hurt a little, but it motivates the horse to accomplish its full potential. While Jesus is the mender of the broken souls, He also will directly address those trapped in pride, apathy or self-righteous religion. Jesus is not afraid to kick you in the butt to get you off the couch. This type of confrontational encouragement is often called “spiritual conviction.” The goal is not to make a person feel bad about themselves, but to lead them to repentance over their sin. Christ-like comfort will always lead to conviction and correction, not condemnation and coercion.

How does Christ need to encourage you today? To comfort you or to spur you on? Rarely will anyone ever admit to needing to be spurred on, but you should trust that whatever encouragement God sends your way, it is necessary for your growth and well-being as a disciple. As you learn to receive encouragement from Christ, you will better be prepared to encourage those around you.

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