We live in a dark world where it is easy to get lulled to sleep spiritually and come under the control of negative influences. The Day of the Lord will come but during the interim His people are called to be lights in this dark world.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)
We Need Encouragement to Remain Alert
Rather than be lulled to sleep spiritually, we need to remain alert (1 Thess. 5:6). But, we need encouragement to counteract natural tendencies that tend to cover over our light rather than fuel it to keep it brightly shining.
Sometimes we sleep because we are tired. Doing good in a dark world can be exhausting and we don’t always see results.
Keep your eyes open and on Jesus “who for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). We can be encouraged knowing a better day is coming and not “become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”(Gal. 6:9). Looking at the big picture, you can conclude that all efforts and hardships will be worth it in the end.
Sometimes we sleep because we are depressed. If we focus on the circumstances around us, we will lack peace and joy. Escaping from it all will seem like a viable option.
Remember Jesus’ words: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) We can be encouraged knowing that in Jesus we can rise above the dreariness and apathy of this dark world. Looking at the real picture, you can conclude that life will not be easy but you will be okay in the end.
Sometimes we sleep because we are ill. When we become like the dark world, we will want to sleep “for those who sleep, sleep at night” (1 Thess. 5:7). Living in sin and fellowshipping with the world rather than the Lord robs us of the power we need to stay awake.
Understand the effects of sin on a holy God but remember that He is also a gracious God who offers a way to become healthy again. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9) We can be encouraged knowing that though we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). Looking at the whole picture, you can conclude that change is possible.
We Need Encouragement to Remain Self-Controlled
Rather than come under the control of negative influences, we need to be self-controlled. But, we need encouragement to help us say no to the lures of this world in order to remain free from its intoxicants that dim our lights.
The Apostle Paul likens it to getting drunk, stating that “those who get drunk, get drunk at night” (1 Thess. 5:7). Here’s what happens when we come under the negative influences of a dark world.
1) We lose our ability to think sharply. Consequently, we fail to interpret life properly. We lack discernment which can lead to a host of problems.
Instead, be encouraged because you don’t have to be conformed “to the pattern of this world.” Rather you can be “transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2).
2) We lose our inhibitions. Consequently, we can slip back to our old human nature, acting like who we were before accepting Christ into our lives. We let our guard down which can lead to a hindered testimony.
Instead, be encouraged because you don’t have to remain in this wretched condition not doing the good you know you should be doing. Rather, you can find deliverance in Jesus (Rom. 7:15-25) and live by the Spirit rather than “gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal. 5:16-25).
To be that light in a dark world that reflects and glorifies our Lord we need to remain alert and self-controlled. The Apostle Paul’s solution? – “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thess. 5:11)
We need encouragement. In this post we looked at “why” it is needed. In the upcoming posts we will look at “who” needs encouragement and “who” should be giving it and then “how” to be encouraging. You can subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.