We all need to be encouraged to love people and do good. The biblical writer of the book of Hebrews challenges his readers to “consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV)
This is the time of year when many students celebrate graduation from high school. They have achieved this goal because family members, teachers and friends have been encouraging them along their primary and secondary education path.
As I reflect back on my own life I realize the successes I have achieved have come about because there were people who strongly encouraged me to persevere in my studies, in my faith, and in my vocation in spite of setbacks or difficult experiences. Yes, I drew strength and courage from God through the ministry of His Holy Spirit, who by the way is also known as “The Encourager.” But God used many people to “spur” me on and to be involved in ministry to people.
Cowboys use spurs on their boots to spur their horses to move forward or move at a faster pace. We all need a helpful “kick in the butt” to motivate us to do what’s right and good and extend good will to people in our circle of influence.
The New Living Translation says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” It carries the idea of thoughtfully and strategically planning on how we can motivate people to love and good deeds.
At our Northern church retreat at Simonhouse Bible Camp each May long weekend we have a group of senior high youth from Elm Creek who come up with their youth sponsors and provide children’s ministry while adults are in session. The youth sponsors say they have a waiting list of youth wanting to come. It’s a lot of hard work – preparation, travelling, serving – but the youth love it. They have been “spurred on” to love and good deeds and as they serve and see the effect their service has on the lives of children they gain a sense of deep satisfaction. The children are blessed, but the youth sponsors say that they and their youth are blessed even more. These youth sponsors with the encouragement of their church motivate these kids to love and good deeds in a variety of ways. They have even taken their youth to the inner city of Los Angeles, CA and spent a week caring for people who had very little.
Another side benefit is that these young people are not engaging in self-destructive behaviour or in behaviour that becomes a detriment to their community. They have been given a sense of purpose and direction. And they have found that this promotes health and wholeness in their own lives as they get involved in loving and helping others.
There are many opportunities to get involved in helping in our community. Our church, Thompson Christian Centre Fellowship, became involved in the Our Home Kikinaw Project because we were “spurred on” by one of our members who is a businessman. Gert Wilzer felt that we needed to be involved in providing a positive influence in our community and to assist the Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (TNRC) in providing affordable housing for low-income families. Different members provided different help and all members were encouraged to also be involved financially and “on-site”.
At our recent barbecue fundraiser for Our Home Kikinaw it was encouraging to see others from other churches and in the community come out in support of the project. Our church council “spurred” our membership to give generously by providing an incentive of a matching grant up to $4,000 towards the drywall project. It was exciting to see our goal of $7,000 surpassed by the generous donations of $4,528.10 so total donation with church matching grant was over $8,528. In addition another $2,000 had come in previous to the barbecue fundraiser.
Now the second build needs volunteer help with painting, siding and finishing the basement. Maybe someone reading this will be “spurred on” to give Blake Ellis a call at TNRC and volunteer services or time on the project to bring this build to completion so the Carter family will be able to move in by fall.
So I challenge you – what are some ways that you can use to motivate – “spur others on to love and good deeds?” And never forget the biggest encouragement of all can be our example of selfless giving and doing good in our world.
Ted Goossen is pastor of the Mennonite Christian Centre Fellowship at 328 Thompson Dr.