He mindlessly pulled little weeds as we talked. Before long there was a beautiful stretch of weed-free walkway. He had not come to do weeding. It happened on the side. He didn’t even mention the weeds. No reference to. No criticism of. No discussion about. Maybe he didn’t even realize what he was doing.
After he left, I sat and looked at the freshly cleared path and saw a metaphor. The Holy Spirit was at work today pulling little weeds from my heart. And surely this is a hallmark of a good and godly friend: Someone through whom, during every day moments, the little weeds are plucked from my life. Someone who makes a difference without even realizing what they’ve done. Who brings healing as they pass by. Who brings hope to everything they touch. Mindlessly. Effortlessly. Pridelessly.
As I stared at the pathway, more weed-pulling friends came to mind and I am amazed that I haven’t thought about them this way before. And then my heart rested on a mentor couple whose lives weed-pull mine on a constant basis. Their words are full of His Life. They are speakers of encouragement. En-couragement. To give courage. They embody this “on the side weed-pulling” ministry in an incredible way.
Confession: I have woefully undervalued God’s use of encouragement. Actually, I’ve demeaned it. And in the process, I’ve lost sight of who God is.
But I am justified because: we really need correction. Humans are terrible. And there’s such a sense of entitlement in our society these days. There are so many people who are blind to their responsibilities. Blind to their faults. Who want to blame everyone else for everything. We really need a good talking to. We are in need a good strong dose of correction… aren’t we?
Sigh. Just as it’s easier to believe the bad more than the good, I have come to value seeing the bad more than I value seeing the good. I have come to believe that big time heavy duty deeply cutting weeding is the best thing for me and for all of us.
I’m not entirely wrong because the Master Gardner does heavy duty pruning and uprooting and burning away. BUT, all too often children of God embrace (and dish-out) criticism and judgment with the false belief that it’s the very heartbeat of God. That it is the most important thing. That it’s what everyone needs.
Despite popular belief, it’s not His heartbeat. It’s not the vanguard of God’s plan. It’s not His essence. Love is. His plan is exploding with passionate Love. His plan is about beauty. Redemption. Healing. Freedom. Life. Love. Relationship.
God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. (John 3:17 Msg)
[The church] was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. (Acts 9:31b)
Turns out, my on the side weed-pulling friends embody the heart of the Holy Spirit just as much as those God uses to bring intense and blunt correction. I got out of balance. And I think the Body of Christ has too.
That encouraging mentor-couple has changed my view and changed my ways. How can I argue with the fruit of their influence? Encouragement has improved me. Rooted out issues. Cleaned me. Encouragement is a powerful corrective and healing force. Encouragement is a ministry of the Holy Spirit. It’s part of the list of gifts in Romans 12! A much needed ministry in the Body. An essential part of God’s plan.
You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. (Heb 10:25)
How quickly do default to see the negative in my own life? In the lives of others? When I am meeting together with my church family, am I actively pursuing to speak encouragement? I need to get more purposeful and intent about doing this: Encourage and build each other up. (1 Thes 5:11)
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. (1 Thes 5:11 NLT)