My friend and mentor Ray Ortlund, Jr. had a stellar post today on encouragement. It knocked my socks off. It’s aimed at pastors, but it is Jesus-sized, so it fits all.
“If there is any encouragement in Christ . . .” Philippians 2:1
Tomorrow many of us will be preaching. What is our goal? Not bashing people over the head with the law. That may make us feel better about ourselves, as if our opinions were needed, but it is not the ministry of Christ. What do we find in him? Encouragement. It’s so obvious to Paul, it’s the first thing he mentions when he inventories our wealth in Christ here in Philippians 2.
Do we find encouragement in one another? Sometimes. But that supply is limited. We come together at church not to amass the encouragement we bring in but to receive the encouragement he is pouring out. If we come to church only to draw strength from one another, that’s all we’ll get. And we will end up empty and angry at one another. Putting community first destroys community. Our encouragement is in Christ, and he is inexhaustible.
Those of us who are preachers — tomorrow, through the gospel, let’s lavish on our fellow-sinners the endless encouragement that is right now exploding out of the glorious risen Christ. If attendance at your church is down because people are out of town for Christmas travels, that doesn’t diminish your ministry at all. The Lord Jesus Christ is rich with encouragement, he is a big spender, and he is the measure of your ministry.