Encouraging others to grow up in Christ

AN old Mississippi country preacher who believed, in is bones, that the Word of God was a two-edged sword, mounted his pulpit one Sunday morning and before he preached invoked the Almighty thus.

“Oh Lord, give thy servant this mornin’ the eyes of the eagle and the wisdom of the owl; connect his soul with the gospel telephone in the central skies; illuminate his brow with the Sun of heaven; possess his mind with love for the people; turpentine his imagination; grease his lips with possum oil; electrify his brain with the lightin’ of the Word; put perpetual motion in his arms; fill his plumb full of dynamite of Thy glory; anoint him all over with the kerosene of salvation, and then set him on fire. Amen.”

This good old man felt that if God answered his prayer then he would be completely fitted to proclaim God’s Word and so feed God’s people. The fulfilling of all these highly verbalised requests would render him well night invincible and he would get it altogether as a communicator.

When we look around for examples of those at the height of their powers whom we deem as role models for the saints we invariably select the giants of the faith both in Scripture and history.

And this is right and proper for their exploits were written for our instruction (Romans 15 v4). Alistair MacLean wrote in this vein: “Lighthouses shining over the waste of dark tumbling waters, mountains that plant in your thoughts the secrets of steadfastness and strength; rocks that rise out of the shifting sands of opinion and face the winds of change change or war or scorn with calm. In every generation men and women of this quality make their appearance on the human scene. God sends them forth and they arrive.”

But are to confine ourselves to high profile saints only? No! There are a host of others whose names are in the Book of Life if not in the records of men, whose life and witness commended their with winsomeness.

Ananias had that role, and although only mentioned once in the New Testament, his work was vital, his conduct exemplary and his character rounded and mature (Acts 9 v10-19).

When Saul of Tarsus was ‘arrested’ by Jesus on the road to Damascus his party led him into that city in search of advice, support and nurturing.

God had a man in that street capable of such a ministry and his life and witness could well become a template for all zealous servants of God wanting to know the secrets of usefulness for the Master’s sake.

God sent Ananias to Straight Street to speak to Saul and that command ran counter to the opinion of the believers.

It is a tribute to Ananias that he had escaped the common prejudice of his community. Upon getting the direction the good man set off and the first word Saul heard from the representatives of Jesus was “Brother”. Then Ananias proceeded to make the new convert a meal. Cooking must be sensitive to their needs and for their concerns. Such mentors are not sent to create a little following for themselves or to produce spiritual clones but to encourage their charges to grow up in Christ.

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become dear to us.”

1 Thessalonians 2 v8.