Monday, February 22, 2010

Encourage daily... is by far my favorite social network. It’s basically Twitter for athletes. I post my bike rides every day and my friends, most of them, post words of encouragement. When I have a good ride, Kris from Washington is there to say, “Way to go!” When I have a not so good day, Janeen from New York cheers me up. If I post an exceptionally strong workout, Eric Mason, pastor at Bethel Friends and my best DailyMile friend finds a way to poke fun at me. Our good natured trash talk is legendary on the site.

I discovered DailyMile almost accidently. I stumbled on it when someone I was following on Twitter posted a link to their profile. I clicked over to DailyMile and joined that day.

Since then I have posted dozens of rides and received hundreds of comments and words of encouragement that have motivated me to keep going. Without the encouragement of my “team” I doubt I would have made my mileage goal for 2009. Everyone just kept cheering me on, telling me I could do it. When you have to ride 572 miles in a month to make a goal, you need a few cheerleaders. DailyMile supplied them in spades. I met and even exceeded my goal.

And this year I’m well on my way to a higher mileage goal. The folks on the site keep spurring me on. They keep pushing me to greater gains.

I try to do the same for others on the site. I “speak” words of praise to riders and runners alike. No matter their experience or skill level I find myself wanting them to succeed. Their wins are my wins. Their losses are mine too.

There’s another social network, a real face-to-face one, that’s supposed to provide the same sort of things these virtual communities supply. You’re a part of this network – everyone of you who is a believer. I’m talking about the church of course. The body of Christ is supposed to be a group that dishes out the blessing of encouragement in large quantities. Giving each other the courage to keep following Christ is a major reason we’re to meet together. God is clear on this matter. He intends for the church to be a living, loving, thriving community. Over and over in the Bible we see him commanding or commending spoken words of love and overt acts of kindness. He reveals the purpose of encouragement in more than one verse.

Consider Hebrews 3:12-14. “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” (NIV)

Do you have a tendency toward sin? We all do. No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, our flesh tries to exert itself. We have to fight against the urge to do what’s wrong.

Even Paul struggled with this. Look at what he writes in Romans 7:18-19. “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (NIV)

I could write the same thing. You could too. We’re all in the same boat. So God inspired the writer of Hebrews to pen this command: “…encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

God knows we need the gentle corrective words of others to keep us from constantly wandering into sin. He knows the dilemma we face because his Son was tempted in every way, just as we are. (See Hebrews 4:15.) So he gives us the Holy Spirit who convicts us when we sin and he gives us brothers and sisters in Christ so we can encourage one another.

Have you encouraged anyone this week? The command is to do it daily. Maybe you need to increase the amount of encouragement we’re dishing out. Join me in speaking courage-giving words this week.

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