An expert painter instructs a novice on the fine art of covering a dark undercoat. The mentor deftly loads the brush with paint and applies it to the surface with a gentle grace. She turns to her apprentice and affirms, “See? You gotta’ lay it on thick. That’s the only way to get good coverage.”
An older brother, capable of taming tornadoes as far as his six-year-old sibling is concerned, explains the process of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With the precision of a seasoned surgeon wielding a scalpel, he piles the peanut butter high then spreads it over every square centimeter of the stone ground whole wheat bread. He extends it to his wide-eyed little sister for inspection and says, “See how you do it? You gotta’ lay it on thick.”
A delicate rose of a little girl—dressed in the finest frilly dress her mother could find—flawlessly performs a simple piece at her first piano recital. With her whole body a bundle of nerves, she steps to the front of the grand piano which makes her both look and feel small. Her eyes scan the audience. A smile streaks across her face as her gaze locks on her parents. Both are applauding with such vigor they might just knock their knuckles right off their hands. When it comes to expressing their praise for their daughter’s musical prowess, no one need tell them a thing. They just know, you gotta’ lay it on thick!
Life is full of variety. We travel down many bumpy roads and experience a few hard knocks. Along the way, we make mistakes—sometimes big ones! On rare occasions, we soar to lofty heights and catch a glimpse of the grandeur of life. Usually, though, we just live from day-to-day. We paint houses; make sandwiches and learn how to play new pieces on the piano. These are not earthmoving events—just life.
Whether we are soaring with the eagles or scratching in the dirt with a bunch of turkeys, one thing remains constant. We all need love and encouragement. The Apostle Paul knew this. In writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, who were already known for their love for Christians throughout Macedonia, Paul and company wrote, “we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10) Because we are part of the family of God, we don’t need to be told to be supportive of one another—to applaud one another’s efforts in the kingdom. We just need to be reminded to lay it on thick!
This is especially true for those who live their lives on the front lines where the battle for hearts and souls rages. Unfortunately, some have developed the habit of doing the opposite.
- Church leaders routinely make dozens of decisions, but let them make one that is questionable and, at least in the minds of some, then nothing they decide is right.
- Ministers deliver hundreds of sermons each year from the pulpit and in print, but let them misspeak just once and, at least in the minds of some, then nothing they say is right.
- Over a year’s time, the typical church bulletin contains hundreds of announcements, consisting of thousands of words; but the editor too often hears only about the things left out and typographical errors.
- A spouse may regularly do a jillion things around the house, but let him forget to take out the trash or let her burn the toast just once and, at least in the minds of some, then nothing he or she does is right.
- The same is true with children, isn’t it? Why do we so often overlook so many good things and choose to focus on the negative?
Some people can look at a wall covered with masterful works of art and notice only the pieces hanging askew. What joy, what pleasure they forfeit! Remember: constant criticism usually makes us bitter, while consistent encouragement makes us better! So, let’s do our best to bring out the best in others and let God take care of all the rest!
Let’s excel in the practice of helping others along life’s way. The world already has enough fault-finders. Let’s be good-finders. When it comes to love and encouragement, let’s lay it on thick!
© Bill Williams
October 31, 2005