For my 17th birthday (I know, eons ago) my girlfriend Beverly, best friend James, and I decided to have a cookout. We drove to a park and found a perfect location surrounded by tall pine trees. A nearby lake sparkled in the sunlight.
I loaded the grill with lots of charcoal, which I thoroughly soaked with lighter fluid. Then as Beverly and James happily looked on with great anticipation, I tossed a lit match onto the grill. The flames gloriously burst into a deep blue sky.
I had lit a fire for all to see…around the park, in neighboring states, on nearby planets. The heat burned the hair right off my arms. The grill warped into a twisted heap of metal. It was awesome! But not everyone seemed as happy as before.
The greatest among you will be your servant…
Beverly and James had made an error. They assumed I knew what I was doing. And as we hurried about extinguishing a few fires, a major rule in the world of “encourage one another” rose from the ashes: Assumptions lead to destruction.
“Assumption” has many definitions but here it means something taken as true without any proof. That can be very dangerous in how we view others and ourselves. Jesus had much to say about this. Remember the Sermon on the Mount?
Jesus singled out the poor; those lacking courage and determination; mourners; the beaten down; the humble, kind and gentle; those longing for justice; the merciful; those who focus on God, loving and following Him; who seek peace; and the persecuted.1
…and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 2
He called them blessed, but why? The world looks down on such people. It adores the proud, the rich, the self-centered, the ambitious…those who lean on their own abilities, intelligence, and will. How can the people Jesus named be blessed?
Jesus was not simply saying, “Be like these people who understand they need Me in their lives.” He was also talking about the Kingdom of God and how He will work through those despised by the world in order to save and change lives in it.
Great encouragers have been unloved, abandoned, scorned, beaten, abused, and mocked. And they allow God to move in their lives to reach others like them. So never assume you are worthless. God will light a fire in your life for all to see.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) Read Matthew 5:1-10. (2) Read Matthew 23:11-12.
Pictures: Banner Photo: Unknown. 1st Photo: Brilliant by Chuck Graham. 2nd Photo: Unknown. 3rd Photo: Unknown.