“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . .” (1 Thessalonians 5:11a NIV)
My older daughter was very cautious when she was a young child. This was no more evident than when she was learning how to walk. When she tried taking her first step she fell back down on her bottom. It wasn’t a long fall, maybe eight inches from her bottom to the floor. And, she landed on carpet. But it was enough to convince her that walking could wait.
For weeks after that, she’d crawl to the coffee table and stand up, supporting herself with her right hand on the coffee table. She’d turn slightly and, ever so carefully, move her left foot and left hand forward and back like a private game of hokey pokey. Mind you, she would never let go of the table or take the weight off of her right foot. She wanted to walk but in her mind the risk to reward ratio wasn’t worth chancing it again without a net.
The net was provided about a month later during a family get-together at my parents’ house. My sister’s two daughters took Amy to the backyard and stood her up on the trampoline. They clapped their hands and cheered, “Yay, Amy! Yaaaay!” Then they extended their arms toward Amy and encouraged her to walk to them. She took a step and fell back onto her bottom . . . and bounced.
The fall didn’t hurt this time.
Her eyes widened. She got onto her hands and knees and stood up – all by herself – no coffee table, or any other support other than her preteen aunts clapping and cheering her on. She clapped and cheered for herself in unison with them. Within an hour she was walking effortlessly.
The Christian life is a walk. That’s why we need to continue to encourage each other and build one another up. All of us are at different stages of learning how to walk out the Christian life. The church should be the “safe to fall” trampoline (Gal. 6:1-2; 1Jn. 5:16).
Let’s be each other’s greatest cheerleaders. Let’s clap for one another and encourage each other. Let’s not pile on guilt and shame when one of us falls. Instead, let’s extend our arms, believe in each other, and cheer each other on until we are all walking effortlessly.