First of all, encourage!

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance” Revelation ii:2a. NASB

There is no one more righteous and just than our Lord Jesus Christ. Although nothing is hidden from his blazing eyes and even when He sees us just as we are, He is always fair in His assessment of our strengths and weaknesses. Unlike humans, Jesus sees the good and the bad. He downplays neither our accomplishments nor our sins.

In the messages to the seven churches in Asia, the Lord Jesus’ primary aim was to correct erring churches. Yet, the messages are not an exercise in fault finding and sheep bashing. He condemned individual and corporate sins in the strongest possible ways. Yet, we know that these churches were not crushed by His stinging rebukes.

The secret of this ministry of restoration lies in Jesus’ approach to correction. Each of His messages to the churches began with glowing appreciation for their accomplishments.  For instance, His message to the church in Ephesus begins thus:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. (ii.2,3)

After reading this, who wouldn’t feel encouraged? It is such a comfort to know that Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, took notice of the Ephesian Christians’ toil and perseverance. After this, when Jesus says, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (v 4), I am sure the Ephesians were more than willing to be corrected by their caring, all-knowing, encouraging Master.

How do we try to correct our fellow brethren, children, students, or even colleagues? Do we couch our rebukes or critiques in layers of encouragement and affirmation, like Jesus did? In our zeal to correct others, have we forgotten to take notice of all the great things they have been doing? Did you encourage anyone today? If you haven’t, save your criticisms, rebukes and corrections for another day. First, deposit loads of complements and encouragements in the “savings account” of your relationships before you try to withdraw from it. It might take up to ten positive comments to offset one negative comment.

I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain