“But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.”
(1 Corinthians 14:3)
The prophetic gift is a gift of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, one that He inspires and uses. This is not the specific ministry of a prophet which we see in the Old Testament but one of the more general gifts of the Spirit given for ‘the common good’ – the building up of the Body of Christ. It is a gift that, says Paul, is to be ‘eagerly desired.’
From this we can understand that God wishes to strengthen, encourage and comfort us more than He wishes to criticise and chastise us. If this is God’s approach to us then we should be adopting the same approach to others. The world around us is full of criticism of people and many of us will have suffered under it from time to time. Jesus warned us against such arrogant attitudes towards others by telling us to get rid of the plank in our own eyes before having the temerity to identity the speck in someone else’s eye. Often our response to what we see as a person’s shortcomings is inflamed by the inadequacies and hurts that we carry within us.
Where it may become necessary to challenge someone it can be done without biting and destructive comments either to them or to others. One man, after listening to a critical conversation for a while, said quietly, ‘Don’t be so angry with them, they just sin differently to you!’
As ministers of God’s gospel of love and grace we can decide to join with God in His ministry of ‘strengthening, encouragement and comfort’ – and to take this with us when we move amongst people – consciously looking for something positive to say or indicate to them wherever possible.
Decide to be a blessing this year.
Lord, please help me to bless and encourage all those with whom I have contact this year. Amen