At Gateway Church in Austin, we started a new series called “The One Anothers”
God is for us—not against us, and He wants us to be for each other, not tearing each other down. We all want this kind of encouraging environment, but it takes effort to create and sustain it. How should we be encouraging and building up the people around us as God intended?
These discussion questions are designed for your life group or family dinner to help you apply the message to your life. NEXT STEPS
Video of the Message John Burke Shared:
Here are the message notes from John Burke:
We’re looking at how God invites us all into His New Family, through Jesus’ payment people can be forgiven and adopted into God’s New Family, we have a New Father, and we become spiritual Brothers and sisters. The One Anothers of Scripture are his New Family rules—Over 50 One Another statements in the New Testament teaching us a New way to be human—other centered.
God is doing something New in us if we’re willing. He’s teaching humanity a new way to be Human—as we long to be, as He intended. It’s the environment we all want, yet we all struggle to create it for One Another going our way instead of God’s way. So first, we must reconnect to the Source. He doesn’t force us into His family—we must choose. And as we follow God He will build us up, so we can build others up—not just tear others down. Jesus said “Whoever wants to be my disciple [follower] must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul…For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” If we are going to truly follow Jesus, we must let go of the old material girl/guy, me-first, self rules ways—we lose that life, we die to that life…so we can live God’s New Ways, putting others before ourselves. That’s why scripture is full of these One Another statements—God’s New Family Rules for how we treat each other as His church, and how are to treat all people. And Jesus said—the Material world rewards what you amass, titles you accumulate, but they will all be lost. But God will reward those who build up others. He died for us so that…we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess 5:10-11 And I can say to you Gateway church—this is happening here among us in astounding ways—people are being built up and encouraged. But I want to remind us and challenge us if we’re starting to slip—this is the kind of New Family we want to be. And we need reminding because it’s much easier to tear down than to build up.
So we need to plan and prepare and really think about how to Build Up people. It’s not haphazard, and it’s not natural for most of us, so we need to think hard about how and train ourselves. Let’s talk through a Building Up plan by using words of encouragement liberally. I want you to make notes and practice this—it will pay off for you in our church, at work, and in all your relationships.
Encourage by Calling out the Masterpiece
If you found an original Rembrandt painting in a trash can (or rubbish can as those watching overseas call it), and it was covered in mud, stained and torn, would you treat it like trash—worthless? No…we’d all be smart enough to realize it’s still worth millions—underneath all that mud and damage is a priceless work of art needing restoration. That’s even more true of every Human Being. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:9-10 In other words, we don’t have to earn God’s love or forgiveness or adoption into his family—because of Grace, what Jesus did for us, He takes anyone back who will turn back, accept his forgiveness and invitation to be his child. He does this because every Human was created as God’s Original Work of Art.
Now, let me ask you—if God says that’s true, why is it so awkward to remind each other? Right—let’s face it. If I forced you to look the person next to you deep into the eyes—deep into the soul—and say “You are God’s Masterpiece—unique and more valuable than you can imagine.” That feels awkward, forced, weird. Why? Why is it so much easier to say what’s false – You’re a piece of work—it’s sarcastic, derogatory, yet funny! We’ve been trained and parented by a world that tears down—it’s easier—it keeps us from the possibility of people thinking we’re insincere (about encouraging words? It’s more sincere to be a Jerk?) Yes! That’s why to Encourage and Build up, you must die to yourself—to that old protective life that worries about what others think of ME, Myself first, and call out the Masterpiece in others. How?
You use your imagination. We use our imagination to build up everything—if you can’t imagine a house, you can’t build it. If you can’t imagine a software program, you can’t write it. If you can’t imagine an outfit, you can’t design it. If you can’t imagine a man cave, you can’t hide in it. So use your imagination to Build Up people. What is their potential? What can you imagine God’s plan might be? What are their positive traits, attributes, skills, character that You can encourage and call out? Often what we all need are people who can see in us what God sees—cause we all get so torn down with what’s wrong (the mud and stain) we don’t see the Masterpiece. So See and Say—See positive traits God gave that person and the potential God sees—see it in your mind and say it. That motivates people toward God and His vision.
Think about the potential of one life if that person were built up? Think of the ripple effect you could have through humanity—God promises to one day show you when He rewards you—because you did the hard work of building up and encouraging One Another rather than thinking about how it looks on you.
A little girl had very little potential in the world’s eyes. She couldn’t see flowers in her yard, white clouds drifting by. She couldn’t hear the laughing and singing of the children playing around her. Couldn’t hear her name called or her mother’s whisper of love. She couldn’t talk or communicate at all. She lived in a dark quiet world where she felt alone. The fear caused her to be a terror—out of control. There seemed no hope for this little blind, mute, deaf girl—a life where most saw no hope.
One day when she was 7, she felt 2 arms wrap around her—she kicked and thrashed to get away. She felt the person’s face, the face of a woman—no one she knew. The woman took her hand and then pushed the signs into her hand “TEACHER”. She gave her cake to eat, and spelled out “CAKE.” The little girl didn’t understand, and grew tired and angry and started kicking and scratching, screaming and growling, breaking plates and running away. Her parents and teacher wondered if there was any hope.
One day as they were walking outside The Teacher stopped at a well and put the little girl’s hand under, spelled WATER. The lights came on. Helen Keller understood that the cool flowing something was what Annie, her teacher, was telling her the name of. With tears she ran around wanting to know the name of everything. Helen learned to read and write with her fingers, she even learned to speak. She never stopped learning—she went to school, she went to college. Helen devoted her life to help others who could not speak or hear or see. She wrote books, traveled internationally speaking and encouraging those with disabilities. Presidents and Kings welcomed her, the whole world grew to love her and she changed the course of history for many disabled people. A childhood that began in darkness and loneliness and no potential, turned into a life of light and joy and a huge ripple effect throughout humanity. One life of seemingly little potential, built up changing history by building others up. And the difference? One person! One person who could see the Masterpiece, encourage and build up by calling it out. You can do the same—use your imagination and encourage the potential you see in people. And if that’s a struggle to imagine—use God’s Words.
Encourage with what God says is true
As we are learning to use words to build up, we may need help because we haven’t been trained this way. I read a book this summer about the Power of Habit—we form habits that we don’t even think about—it bypasses the brain and just happens. Forming new habits takes mental effort. This summer I was stand-up paddleboard surfing in California with my son hurt my forearm—but so worth it. 3 weeks later my forearm hurt so much, I had to brush my teeth with my left hand. Ever tried that—it’s not easy because it’s not a habit. Found out I just have tendonitis. But we have to develop new habits of using words to encourage and build up. If it’s not a habit, the old habits of just seeing the mud will prevail. So one way to form a new Habit is to use God’s Words until it becomes more natural. “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up…. Acts 20:32
How do you do this? Read the New Testament—all the encouraging things God says about each human he created: “God is for you” “You are unique and valuable and no one else can reflect the aspect of God’s Image to the world that you can.” “You can’t even imagine how much God loves you—right now, regardless of the past.” Start with Ephesians chapter 1—just personalize it for each other around here. God loved you and chose you before the world began—he had you in mind to adopt you as his own. You’re wanted, valued, special. He says you being in His family gives him Great pleasure. “God has a plan for you—it’s for good things.” That’s true not just for Christians. I said that to Mohammed on my soccer team when he told me the story of escaping his house being shelled by the Taliban—barely escaping over the mountains by night. I said, “Mohammed—I have no doubt God saved you from that and brought you here because he has great plans and a great purpose for your life.” That was after a game, sitting in the bar above the field, sweaty and noisy—and yes, it felt a little awkward…but it’s absolutely true, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to encourage him toward God. And another way to build people up,
Encourage Love and Good Deeds
Catch them doing right, and encourage it. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…. Heb 10:24-25 That’s why church is so important—we learn how to do this together—as we meet together relationally. You don’t learn to build up others just sitting and listening. And yes, it can be awkward in the world where tearing down is the norm. So that’s why you’ll hear us say every week, get connected—take the Starting Gate tour and serve others with others. That’s a great place to practice encouraging and building up—as you catch each other doing good, tell them, encourage them. “Man, you are really good with kids—it’s cool to see how they respond to you.” “You have been so faithful serving people in need with our Food Pantry—God’s really using you to help lots of people.” “I love the way you welcome people—it’s really matters for first timers.” “I’m amazed at how patient you are when these ungrateful people almost run you over in the parking lot” (Oh, that was borderline tearing down, wasn’t it) “Thank you for using your administrative gifts to keep us so well organized—it really helps” First, you’ve got to understand what motivates people and catch them doing it:
A guy was going to bed when his wife told him that he had left the light on in the shed. As he looked out the window, he saw that there were people in the shed taking things. He phoned the police, but they told him no one was in their area to help at this time, but they would send someone over as soon as they were available. He said “OK,” hung up, and waited one minute, then phoned the police back. “Hello. I just called you a minute ago because there were people in my shed. Well, you don’t have to worry about coming now cause I’ve shot them all.” Within five minutes there were half a dozen police cars, an Armed Response unit, the works. They caught the burglars red-handed. One of the officers said: “I thought you said that you’d shot them!” He replied, “I thought you said nobody was available!” You just got to know how to motivate action.
The key to building up others is learning what motivates them. When people are motivated, it’s amazing what they can do and become. When they are discouraged or feeling piled on, it’s amazing how low they can sink fast. Usually where they’re gifted or passionate motivates, so See it and Say it—that’s what Dave White did with me. He kept observing how I’d learn something, then get excited about telling him about it. He kept saying, “I think God’s given you a teaching gift.” I kept saying, “Well if so, that was a bad idea because I don’t do public speaking.” He kept encouraging me—pointing out the potential—saying “You really are good at organizing and explaining your thoughts.” “You really do like to help people get it—don’t you?” He convinced me I just needed to die to myself and my fear of failure—and what people would think—so I could fan the gift God’s given into flame—develop it. Do that for those around you—they will forever be grateful to you for it, just as I am to Dave, as Hellen Keller is to Annie.
Encourage Daily to Fortify Against Temptation
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 We all need encouragement Daily—that’s the environment The Father wants his New Family to grow up spiritually in. That’s why in Lifegroups, we help each other in groups of 8-12 where we can really know and encourage each other with daily texts, or DMs, or calls and where we can get intentional about growing up spiritually into people who build others up. And maybe you never realized this, but the reason we sin—and sin is just going our way instead of God’s way—is because we don’t feel the love, validation, security, encouragement, hope, purpose God wants intends His Children to feel—so we believe the deceitful lies of temptation whispered in our minds saying, “this short-cut way will make you feel better.” But the real antidote to sin is love. Above all, love each other deeply…each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. I Peter 4:8, 10-11 When we learn to live together, loving one another more than we love our reputation, or if we sound awkward, or weird, and instead we encourage one another as if speaking the very words of God—it helps us not fall prey to the lies of temptation—and it grows us into the kind of people everyone wants to be around, and be like. And again, Gateway, I’ve heard 100s of stories over the years of how well you’ve done this—and it is changing lives—so let’s help One Another.