There was a great Dennis the Menace cartoon in the paper last week that I identified with. Mrs. Wilson is hugging Dennis who is sad and in trouble and it read: Sometimes a hug works better than a lecture!
The cartoon speaks loudly to the power of encouragement! Sometimes people say to me, Why don’t you preach a sermon on… Their thinking is we (or somebody in particular) needs a lesson on some kind of sin. My experience is those involved in sin – know it. Maybe what they need is not a lecture, but a hug. The football player who drops a wide open pass in the end zone doesn’t need the coach telling him he blew it – he needs a hug… encouragement. The pitcher who gave up a home run in the 9th inning to lose the game doesn’t need to be told he made a bad pitch – he needs a hug… encouragement. The Christian who walks down the aisle and confesses wrong, doesn’t need to be told he is a bad Christian – he needs a hug… encouragement.
Sometimes we need to be enlightened… we need knowledge… we need that lecture. Sometimes we already know and we need a hug… encouragement. As Paul tried to join himself to the body of believers in Jerusalem he didn’t need to be told he had persecuted the church… killed and imprisoned Christians… he needed a hug… encouragement. And thank the Lord Barnabas step forward and gave him that encouragement. There is a phrase in the Bible, extending the right hand of fellowship, Gal 2:9.
Hmmm… giving someone a hand. The church needs encouragers. Which do you prefer, a hug or a lecture?