Do you want to become a more encouraging person? Do you desire others to feel an increase of strength and motivation from your words and your counsel? I do. So, where does encouragement come from? Does it strike spontaneously, like lightning? Or can it be cultivated, like a fruit tree, with sowing and watering and pruning? Of course, you’ve probably guessed the answer. Growth in the encouragement of others requires consistent effort in gracious meditation.
Here’s one way to put it: Meditation on God’s faithfulness in private produces the fruit of encouragement in company. Those who encourage, and encourage well, are those who spend time thinking about and believing in the God of constant gracious activity. They meditate on the myriad expressions of his activity revealed in the scriptures. They become students of his transforming grace in daily life. They discipline their mind to explore the possibilities of God’s good plan for the various people they know and love.
Then, when the moment comes, in fellowship, together, these seeds of meditation produce the fruit of encouragement.
The contrast is stark. Those who spend almost all their time thinking about their preferences, their disappointments in others, their rights and offenses, find it quite simple to point out the deficiencies of others. Seeds and fruit are always related.
Seeds sown to gracious meditation produce the fruit of encouragement. Seeds sown to self-righteous meditation produce the fruit of a critical spirit.