I read recently that “being a disciple means deliberately identifying yourself with God’s interests in other people.” We’ve all heard it said that Jesus’ teaching and lifestyle were counter-cultural, but that is over the top! The ideology being suggested is radical. It certainly does not fit within the materialism of western consumer culture where the object of attention (and affection when we get right down to it) is the individual. This radical way of life requires an emotional and spiritual health foreign to those who have been influenced by the dogma of self-gratification espoused by so many in our culture.

Even for those of us who are Christ-followers this requires constant recalibration in our lives. Ask yourself this question: “How much of my prayer time today was focused on me and my needs and how much was focused on others?” While it is absolutely true that we are taught throughout Scripture that we are to make our needs known to God, expecting him to take action on our part, it is equally true that we are told to make the Kingdom our top priority in all that we do, including our prayer life. Just look at the model prayer Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:9-13 where we are told to pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done.” It was the prophet Samuel who made it clear that his failure to pray for the people of God would constitute a sin before God on his part (1 Samuel 12:23). That can be tough sometimes. There are times I would rather be mad at people rather than taking the time to see them as God sees them and make myself available to serve the purpose of God in their lives, which begins with praying for them, not against them.

In essence, this is the key to good relationships and being an encourager. To be an encourager means that I am for people. It means I am on their side and want the very best for them. It means I want to see them excel at everything they endeavor to do. It means I do get upset when I see them squander God-given opportunities but, instead of taking that frustration out on them, I pray lovingly and compassionately that God will give them wisdom and discernment so they might more fully understand God’s plan for them and walk in it. It means I become a mature member of the body of Christ, laying aside my own agenda to become a part of what God is doing around me.


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