by Rachel Holmes
Hebrews 10:24 instructs us to: “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.”
What a beautiful instruction – it sounds great, but how do we actually do it without sounding like we’re just guilt-tripping each other into adding more and more to already overflowing schedules and commitments?
It’s simple really. We tell stories. It’s that simple and that complicated.
We all love a good story. Whether it’s through film, TV, books, art, poetry, theatre or music we love to be caught up in the drama and emotion of the moment. We love to cheer on our heroes, boo at the villains, laugh at the clowns and weep with the broken-hearted. We love to be inspired by daring deeds and grand adventures – as evidenced in our apparent love for all things superhero.
Encouraging one another to outbursts of love and good deeds is similar – we are inspired by other’s tales of triumph and trial. We are inspired to celebrate with those who succeed and champion those trying again.
Through this inspiration we joyfully choose to make space for outbursts of love and good deeds. Instead of it becoming another chore on the to-do list, we willingly change our priorities and rearrange our schedules so we can fit it in.
We can share stories of food provided, homes built, volunteering, a listening ear, unexpected financial donations, adoptions, campaigns, prayers, meals cooked, children looked after, blankets knitted, families supported out of poverty, lives turned around, dogs walked, a much needed hug, generosity, night shelters, whimsy, debts cancelled – the possibilities are endless.
We can share stories of all shapes and sizes – of small things done with great love where the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing, to grand deeds for all the world to see. We can share stories of things we’ve seen first-hand and the stories that have been shared with us.
We can share stories of the widow’s mite, the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, food provided for 5000, prisoners set free, healings of leprosy and lameness.
We can share inspirational stories of bravery in the face of adversity, but we’re also inspired by confessions of cowardice and intentions to do better next time.
We can share stories where we run marathons/climb mountains/bake cakes and invite others to support the cause. We can sometimes look down on financial donations as not being hands-on enough. But actually, financial donations are gifts of love – love for the people that benefit and love for the person running/climbing/baking.
As you can see, there are so many stories that can be told.
But the stories we tell need to be real. The glossy polished version is never as inspirational as the real blood, sweat and tears.
Where can we share these stories? Conversations with friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, strangers at the bus stop and everyone in-between, from pulpits, blog posts, podcasts, and yes, even social media.
We share stories to encourage and remind one another that another way is possible. We share stories as an encouragement that the light shines in the darkness and cannot be overcome. We share stories of hope.
What stories of love and good deeds could you be encouraging others with?