Encouraging One Another Daily

I love to visit big cities, but I am a country boy at heart. So, it probably won’t surprise you that one of my earliest musical memories is that of hearing Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in concert. After Roy Rogers made a spectacular entrance astride Trigger, these two put on a show that I can remember like it was yesterday. I especially remember them singing Home on the Range. Until I turned 12 or 13 and my musical tastes began to change, this song was my theme song.

Many people have a special place in their hearts for Home on the Range. In 1947 it was adopted as the state song of the Sunflower State. The opening stanza usually gets the bulk of the play time. You remember it, don’t you?

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

I’m not sure whether life imitates art or art influences life. It’s probably both. I have found that, even though the lyrics of this song were composed more than 131 years ago, it still articulates a prized value amongst westerners, especially the line that reads: “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word”. Some of the most encouraging people I’ve known are or were country folks, people for whom Home on the Range is much, much more than a hokey song cherished by backwoodsie folks.

Perhaps I’m inclined to think about this song because I live in a part of the United States notorious for discourteous casual interactions with others. Exchanging pleasantries seems, in the minds of most, to be nothing more than a waste of time. This is a place where you hope your conversations do not require you to venture beyond this harsh exterior. You know that if they do you will likely be forced to engage people who have a decidedly acerbic tone. It is not surprising, either, for these conversations to end abruptly with some sort of caustic comeback.

Perhaps this is just the Code of the East, I don’t know. What I do know is it’s everywhere round here. I’m amazed at the number of times this standard of behavior prevails, even amongst Christians. I’ve even heard some attempt to justify this harshness by statements that run something like, “Well, I know I’m sometimes offensive to others. I really don’t mean to be. But, that’s just the way I am, because that’s the way I was raised.”

While I am indulging in a bit of stereotyping here, I have found the way many east coasters treat Texans to be astounding. If a Texan makes a personal observation about almost anything, it’s not very long until someone comments on how boastful or arrogant Texans tend to be. They don’t say this behind their backs, either. Usually, it’s a demeaning, caustic, in-your-face comeback. If a Texan were to say, “I don’t mean to be offensive. That’s just the way I was raised,” he would, in the minds of many, simply be giving further evidence of his conceit.

Regardless of the regionalized idiosyncrasies both are far from the desirable conduct called for by Christ. Jesus insists that we treat others the way we want to be treated. (cf. Luke 6:31) Moreover, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, KINDNESS… (cf. Galatians 5:22-23) Additionally, in Christ we are called to “be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)

Beyond this, we are by nature “works in progress”. Growth, change, progress, spiritual development, these are all to be the norm for followers of Jesus. We, like the Ephesian Christians of the first century, are instructed “…with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (cf. Ephesians 4:22-24)

This is not going to happen if we simply keep coasting through life. None of us should say, “Well, that’s just the way I am, because that’s the way I was raised.” We need to be growing into the likeness of Christ, becoming more-and-more like Him as our journey through life progresses. Interestingly, when we do this, we also grow closer to one another in the process. The more we think, talk and act like Jesus, the less of our idiosyncratic differences grate on one another. More importantly, the more we become like Jesus the better equipped we will be to bless and encourage one another.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our reflections of our church family caused us to immediately think of the line, “where seldom is heard a discouraging word”? How wonderful it would be if the body of Christians with whom we work and worship took seriously the imperative of Hebrews 3:13 that says, “…encourage one another daily…”? It just may be that a few kind words mean as much to Jesus as a cup of cold water in the eyes of Jesus.

© Bill Williams
May 21, 2007

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Following Jesus, Life, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Encouraging One Another Daily

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    AMEN brother Bill.

  2. Neva Cooper says:

    My children grew so weary of “Do not let any unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only what is profitable for building one another up according to their needs”. They heard it, memorized it and now I even hear them saying it to their children. 🙂

    Peace
    Neva

  3. cwiwnc says:

    I’m reminded of advice my mother would (I’m sure most mothers did this one way or another) give me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then keep your mouth shut.”

    She was very, very wise.

  4. Greg England says:

    My grandmother, my wife, and my daughter simply refuse (past tense for Grandmama) to say anything unkind about others. Couldn’t help but remember the “Far Side” where two deer suddenly look up and one says, “Did I hear a discouraging word?”

    Never cared much for Roy and Dale, but I love the Sons of the Pioneers, and he sang for them for a while. Good memories.

  5. Nicole says:

    I live in one of the most beautiful states of the grand USA. Unfortunately it is also one of the most liberal politically on this side of the mountains which divide it. Even so, you still engage the cashiers and sales clerks in conversation, smiles, simple greetings. I’m a “smiler”. I don’t intentionally challenge people with a smile to get a smile–I’m just moved to smile at people. Most will return one, some seem almost grateful to receive one, and others look away.

    I am normally not confrontational–although sometimes I confess to being outspoken on my blog or on the blogs of others. I’m passionately non-confrontational. However, once in a great while, people need to get a dose of what they’re giving. Jesus didn’t pull any punches when he spoke strongly even to his disciples.

    Without being mean or out of control, I think certain strong verbage brings much needed correction to those who are genuinely inconsiderate and rude. When they get it back in their faces, it can serve to show them a mirror of their ways. Some are immune to such things much like the Pharisees were and just as those Christians are who refuse to incorporate those parts of the Bible they don’t really want to follow. We’re all there at some time in some capacity, but treating others well shouldn’t be one of those “places”.

  6. Dee Andrews says:

    That’s one thing I LOVE about living in the south (and I don’t really count south Louisiana, as it is radically different than over here in Mississippi – at least around New Orleans, it is) – the courtesy and kindness of everyone you meet. It’s wonderful and I love it. I really bask in it and try to do my part to carry it on to the fullest extent.

    Thanks for this good post.

    Dee

    P. S. Tom got to meet Roy Rogers once and got his picture taken with him and another little boy when Tom was 8 years old. He has that photo matted and framed in his office at work, along with a picture and short bio of Roy, Dale & Trigger.

    Tom’s dad was in the theater business and Roy came to Memphis one time to promote a film and Tom’s dad brought his boy to meet Roy Rogers.

    Thanks, Bill.

  7. Bonnie Anderson says:

    Excellent. I think I will copy the post and put it on my refrigerator so my whole family can come in contact with the content 🙂

    We have been trying to teach our little ones (5&6yrs.) to speak only kind words and our very effective discipline this week is that their new light up Spiderman shoes go on the top shelf of the closet for an hour time-out when we hear unkind words or words spoken in a harsh way. We have been trying to teach this for about five years now…but the time out of the Spiderman shoes seem to be teaching the lesson better than all of our gentle persuasion was doing.

    There is no excuse for “discouraging words” as I learned many years ago after a conversation with my husband. He objected to something I said and I countered with “if I can’t be myself with you, then who can I be myself with?” and he replied “well, maybe yourself is not a very nice self” OUCH!

  8. Kathy says:

    I’ve lived on both coasts, and now am in Texas after 30 years in Mexico. How blessed to have lived most of my life in areas of generalized consideration. It didn’t take long to realize that New Yorkers are also kind and considerate, you need only catch them when they’re immobile, ’cause walking, driving or commuting it seemed all kinds of ‘discouraging words’ and worse were the norm. lol

    Nicole, maybe you could find my solution of use for you. For instance, when a sales person, cashier, doctor’s secretary, you name it, is rude, I smile and say “thank you” – it always stops them and usually they ask, “for what?” I then suggest that their rudeness suggests they are going to spend THEIR money to pay for …….. – that surely they wouldn’t expect me to pay for something to someone that is being caustic with me. As long as I keep my voice gentle, quiet and smile at them, they usually will back off the attitude and all future encounters, so far, have proven pleasant. Just a thought for you.
    Grace extended where grace is not given is usually the more positive modus operandi and usually works, at least in my experience. [not to say I ALWAYS remember to do so. Humpf! 😦 ]

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