Sunday, March 16, 2008

Living Up To Your Name

by Donna L. Watkins

Titus is a Latin name with Greek origin which means various things depending on where you look. The meanings I found were "defender," "giant," and "honorable."

Titus accompanied Paul or was sent by Paul on important missions (giant). He was of great comfort to Paul while he was imprisoned and also cheered him with good news from other areas (defender). We also see him being sent by Paul to Corinth to collect the contributions of the church there on behalf of the poor saints in Jerusalem (honorable). It seems Titus was living up to his name.

We who are in Christ have new meaning added to our name. Christians are to be like Christ. Life here on earth has many trials and tribulations and they are all to train us to be more like Him. How often do we see them that way? It's a choice to dig your heals in and believe and stand on God's Word when the world is falling apart around you. The devil and the world will tell you that God doesn't care and that you're a fool to think He does. There is no encouragement in that.

As brothers and sisters we are to encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 commands:

"Encourage one another, and build each other up."

Sadly, that's not happening as much as it should, especially with those who are closest to us. When we were raising our son and homeschooling, it was natural to say encouraging things, but our mouths also spouted many rules, directions, commands, and lectures that overshadowed the encouragement. Nobody gets enough encouragement and children growing up in a world of so many expectations surely don't.

Lives are so rushed bringing in the money and running to all the "required" activities that husbands and wives don't have time to think about relationships or encouragement between each other. It is assumed each will fulfill their role and keep on moving on. It ain't so ... and it's not working. We're all being driven to think life is in things, in the money, the toys, and the most recent gadgets.

If we valued each other we wouldn't need all the stuff. Remember when you fell in love? You didn't need anything else. That one person was enough. Richer or poorer, sickness or health, it didn't matter as long as life held that person close to you. The hormones chilled out and life entered with all its distractions and troubles.

We all need encouragement. The load of life is just too heavy to carry on our own. This is why God told us to encourage one another. It lifts us up out of discouragement and despair. For husbands and wives, it doesn't mean you have to have the same 'gooshy' feelings. It just means you can honor each other and the relationship and covenant you have with the same encouragement you would give a brother or sister in Christ.

Maybe you're not encouraging anybody, spouse, friend or Christian sibling. Maybe it's because, like Rodney Dangerfield, "you don't get no respect." Where does it begin? Maybe God's telling you right now that it can begin with you. Which came first? The chicken or the egg. Well, that's real easy! The chicken came first. God created it. He also created you, and within you is the ability to be an encourager. The meaning of the word encourage is "to put courage in" someone.

I've done a lousy job of this. I'm so headstrong, independent, competent and determined. I've automatically thought everybody else should be this way and just "stop whining and get it done" because that's how I've motivated myself to get through life.

So, Randal hasn't received much encouragement from me over the years. And with the traits I've mentioned above being displayed, he hasn't seen any need to encourage me. I've been on a Hell-bent trail of my own, and yes, I have allowed Hell (the devil) into my driven way of life in the years when long lists of tasks were life to me.

Accomplishments should never replace people. I grew up an only child and never thought about having siblings. Being so independent I guess I didn't find a need for them. That's not the way God wants us to live. People were always important to Jesus.

A famous singer was to perform at the Grand Opera House and the place was packed. It was then announced that the scheduled artist would not be able to perform, but an equally great talent would and the audience was asked to give her a warm welcome. The groans were so loud that nobody heard the singer's name. You could feel the disappointment.

The stand-in gave it her best and when it was all over, she got a brief scattered applause followed by uncomfortable silence. Suddenly in the balcony a child stood up and shouted, "Mommy, I think you're wonderful!" (This is where mothers break into tears.) Realizing what happened, the crowd jumped to their feet and gave her a standing ovation that lasted for minutes.

There are people close to you, even in your own home, that are bleeding inside, trying not to crumble in the face of life's difficulties that they silently carry around. Can't we break the habit of keeping it all bottled up? What will it hurt to begin to encourage somebody else. If we truly reap what we sow (and if you believe the Bible you can't deny that basic principle), then we'll eventually get encouragement back ... but that should not be our motivation. Being obedient to God's Word should be the reason we make the choice.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7 that "there was no rest for us ... battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy ... so was the news he brought."

Paul was a strong Christian but he still needed encouragement and God sent somebody to him. It would seem in today's world God doesn't have many to choose from when He wants to send an encourager.

Wikipedia defines the name Christian this way: "A Christian is a person whom adheres to Christianity, a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament.

Let's live up to our name. Join me in saying, like Isaiah, "Here am I, Lord, send me." Find somebody each day to encourage. Remember when you tied a string around your finger in school to remind you of something? It's okay to revert back to childhood ways of remembering. Tie a string or twist-tie around your pinkie until you get used to encouraging at least one person a day. And please, practice with those who live in your home.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this lovely reminder. I am printing it for me to remind myself of these scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Your email came in my box at just the right time--God's words to me. He likes to do that, doesn't He?? His ways are perfect, and I needed to remember to encourage my family, His way. Thank you for writing.

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