Encouraging the Opposition
Ready Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Set As a University of Kansas Jayhawk, it’s hard for me to admit this. But this morning I was totally proud of Missouri men’s basketball coach Frank Haith. With the big KU-MU rivalry game coming up this weekend, there’s a lot of trash-talking going on between the schools, and in one of the most brutal rivalries in the country, it can get pretty nasty. With the game being hosted at Missouri, Coach Haith issued a charge to the Mizzou fans to, instead of jeering KU, focus on cheering FOR Mizzou. In essence, don’t worry about trashing the opponent; concentrate on cheering for and supporting your home team. Now that was a classy move. General integrity and kindness often get lost in sports. It’s so easy to get caught up in taunting and trash-talking. But as Christians, we are called to a higher standard. One of our goals should be to bring encouragement to everyone around us and to “build each other up.” How does berating an opponent do that? Easy answer: It doesn’t. I’m not saying that you have to set up at the line of scrimmage and tell the guy across from you that he’s great at rushing the quarterback. But what would happen if you did? What would happen if, after a girl blocks your shot, you said, “Hey, that was a great block! I’d rather have made the shot, but great job at getting a hand up!”? As a natural encourager, that kind of thing seems fun to me, but you might be thinking I’m crazy. Still, I want to remind you that, even if it’s not in your nature to know the best way to build up your opponents (or even your own team), you do have a calling as a follower of Christ to show love and encouragement. And, whether you think so or not, you have what it takes to do it! Because the Holy Spirit lives inside you, you have that spirit of love and the power to do whatever God’s Word tells you to do, which includes building up everyone you encounter. Today, make it a point to encourage others instead of berating your opposition. There’s a big difference between the two, and depending on what you do, you’ll either point others toward Christ or away from Him. Choose to encourage others, including your opponents, and just see what happens as a result! If nothing else, enjoy watching the look of shock on their faces as they experience something so counter-cultural it can only be the work of God.
Go 1. What is the difference between cheering for your team and cheering against an opponent? 2. How does encouragement reveal the character of Christ? How does trash-talking point others away from Him? 3. Which do you do most often? 4. What would happen if you encouraged an opponent on the field or court? Would it bring glory to Christ? 5. What is one way you can encourage your team and opposition today?
Workout Romans 15:5 Galatians 5:22-23 Ephesians 6:21-22 Philippians 2:1-3
1 Thessalonians 5