How to Encourage Others in Sanctification Without Robbing God of His Glory in Grace

From John Stott’s The Message of Thessalonians:

There is an important practical lesson to learn here. What should our attitude be to Christians who are doing well in some aspect of their discipleship? Some people resort to congratulations: ‘Well done! I think you’re marvellous. I’m proud of you.’ Others are uncomfortable with this and see its incongruity. It borders on flattery, promotes pride and robs God of his glory. So, although they may thank God privately in their prayers, they say nothing to the person concerned. They replace flattery with silence, which leaves him or her discouraged. Is there a third way, which affirms people without spoiling them? There is. Paul exemplifies it here. He not only thanks God for the Thessalonians; he also tells them that he is doing so: ‘we ought always to thank God for you … we boast about you’. If we follow his example, we will avoid both congratulation (which corrupts) and silence (which discourages). Instead, we can affirm and encourage people in the most Christian of all ways: ‘I thank God for you, brother or sister. I thank him for the gifts he has given you, for his grace in your life, for what I see in you of the love and gentleness of Christ’. This way affirms without flattering, and encourages without puffing up.

© 2012, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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