More Tools In The Battle: Part 2 of 4: Encourage EACH OTHER

David S. Mackey

In review , we are working on the premise that a large part of the Battle is to leave the false intimacy of sexual acting out and pursue the true intimacy of loving God and others with our whole being. It is a pursuit of loving with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This experienced, is True Intimacy.

Many tools/facets of True Intimacy with God and others are found in the ‘Each Other’ passages of the New Testament. ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Pursuing the ‘Each Other’ principles will enhance our relationship with God and others. In so doing, we will find more victory in the Battle.

We have already looked at ‘Love Each Other’ or in some translations, ‘Love One Another’. One of Jesus’ primary message was to Love Each Other in a kingdom way right now.

Loving others will be a powerful, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy. The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions of love, and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battles are WON!!!

ENCOURAGE and BUILD UP EACH OTHER

The exhortation to encourage or build up one another is mentioned a number of times in the NT. Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:25 tell us to build up or encourage each other. This repetition makes me think that encouragement is pretty important. Repeated 4 times, do we have to wonder why?

Think about those times in which you have been discouraged or beat down. Sometimes those times can get so dark that we don’t even want to keep going. Not necessarily thinking about actual suicide but just wanting to give up on life. When we stop trying and or stop working toward goals we of course become pretty vulnerable in the Battle. Ever been there?

Now think about those times when you have been encouraged. What kind of strength does it give you?

Encouragement heals, it does build up. It makes us stronger. Being encouraged and built up is a wonderful tool in the Battle.

But the call is not only to be encouraged; we are also invited to encourage others. You will find healing and strength if within your life focus is a habit of encouraging others. You will in turn be encouraged and built up by others in response to you being an encourager.

Encouragement is part of intimacy. Encouragement does involve looking more deeply into people and seeing the struggles of their heart, their behavioral struggles, and the situations in which others find themselves; their emotional, spiritual and relational struggles. It is in knowing another’s struggle that we can know how and when to encourage. And of course, knowing another’s struggle and addressing it through encouragement is a piece of True Intimacy. When we are discouraged, we most often want to isolate. But we need to come out–to be authentic about our discouragement so that others can see in us (In-to-me-see) and know how to encourage and build up.

How will you find encouragement? It will be difficult for others to encourage you if you are not living an authentic, open, and honest life. Our past behavior, most often, was to take our pain, our struggles, our failures, our hurts and hide them. We tried to take care of them ourselves. We pretended to others that we were ‘okay’.

If we are living lives that are authentic, if we are open about our struggles, if we are honest about our shortcomings and needs, there will be OTHERS who will encourage us, who will build us up. It is in those encouragements that we will find growth and strength. It is in encouragement that we will find healing.

Encourage others and be encouraged.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

The Importance of Grace in Recovery

Jonathan Daugherty

My daughter just started kindergarten this week. What an exciting time of new beginnings and endless possibilities. These first few steps of her educational journey are memorable and mark the start of a truly adventurous quest for increased knowledge. The buzz created in our home because of my daughter’s first days of school caused me to reflect on the process of recovery and the essential ingredient to lasting purity: grace.

One thing I can assure my daughter (as well as you who are hiking the trail toward purity) is that the journey has obstacles. Just as my daughter will encounter barriers to her educational growth, so too will you encounter seemingly insurmountable challenges in your pursuit of sexual purity. You may hit a wall of frustration, boredom, or temptation in your recovery. The fact that recovery requires resistance is sometimes discouraging to the point of wanting to give up. But rather than take the path of least resistance (which only leads to more pain and disappointment), press forward on the path to personal purity.

The challenges we face in our pursuit of purity are no secret. Laziness, pride, temptation, even relapse. These obstacles attempt to impede our progress and reignite the deadly flames of shame in our minds and hearts. If we allow them to stunt our growth in recovery, we lose momentum and soon find ourselves contemplating old acting out behaviors. From there it is a short trip to deeper bondage in sexual sin.

What then allows a man to break through these barriers and enjoy ongoing, long-term freedom in sexual purity? A proper understanding and application of grace is a great starting point. Grace is God’s favor poured out on undeserving, sin-stained men just like you and me. It is God’s continual “stamp” of approval and acceptance on His children. As God’s child, you are forever engaged by him within the loving boundaries of grace – even when discipline is necessary. To understand such grace begins to put into perspective the many obstacles along the road to purity.

How do you apply this grace in a practical sense when faced with a very real obstacle such as temptation or laziness? First, you must recognize that something has gone awry in your recovery plan. The ship is taking on water, so-to-speak, and something needs to be done to correct it. Let’s say you realize that you have begun to drift toward certain sexual temptations, maybe lingering on seductive websites or TV shows. You haven’t “crossed the line” to porn, but you are drifting. Applying grace to such a situation would include first recognizing that a drift is occurring, and then reminding yourself that whatever you choose to do from that point on, God still loves you. That’s right. Grace is given, not because it is deserved, but because of Christ’s sacrifice for you. Most often, such a reminder will cause you to see that any more movement toward sin would only bring pain, shame, and disappointment. Grace, therefore, leads us to repentance and purity.

I once knew a counselor who used a very unconventional practice to help smokers overcome their habit (and I am not necessarily recommending it here). After several months in counseling and support group therapy, the counselor would instruct his clients to spend one week carrying a pack of cigarettes in their pockets. Not so they would smoke them, but rather so they knew that at any moment they could pull one out if they chose to. This counselor wanted to teach his clients that they had a choice – they did not need to be controlled by the cigarettes, they could choose what to do with their lives. Grace often reminds us of this scary truth – we have a choice. We can choose to walk humbly before God and others and receive the blessings of God’s grace, or we can choose to live in pride, calling the shots and suffer the consequences of isolation, shame, and broken relationships.

Seeing my daughter’s excitement at beginning school also reminded me that the road to recovery is worth it. There is a benefit to pressing through the obstacles and discomfort to reap the reward of peace and true contentment. Although there may be moments (even seasons) of difficulty and disappointment, the long-term results of a lifestyle of purity are worth it. And for every moment, or season, of obstacles and challenges, we are assured that God’s grace is sufficient.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

More Tools In The Battle: Part 1 of 4: Love Each Other

David S. Mackey

In my previous articles, I have written about what I believe is ultimately the key to all healing, the key to becoming all God created us to be. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and others with your whole being, with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. My premise was and is that a large part of the Battle is to leave the false intimacy of sexual acting out and pursue the true intimacy of loving God and others with our whole being.

In the pursuit of True Intimacy, there are many tools God has given us which are useful in this Battle. Most of the ‘tools’ found in Scripture are tools which can help us in all facets of our life, with many different struggles in our life.

In the New Testament, there are found a series of ‘Each Other’ messages which, when practiced move us in the direction of intimacy. These ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Remember, 1 John says that we cannot love God without also loving others. Naturally, it is also true, that when we love others we are also loving God. The ‘love’ we are ultimately talking about is that Agape (Greek) love, unconditional love, which includes our whole being.

In this series of four articles we will look briefly at many of these ‘Each Other’ messages. I believe if we put these into practice it will help build toward Truly Intimate relationships. They will enhance our relationship with God and others. In so doing, we will find more victory in the Battle.

In this series of 4 articles we will identify and look at several of the ‘Each Other’ passages with the goal of moving away from false intimacy and moving towards true intimacy with God and each other.

LOVE EACH OTHER

The very first ‘Each Other’ statement covers them all. ‘Love Each Other’ or in some translations, ‘Love One Another’ is found 17 times in the New Testament. Jesus stressed love in many ways throughout his teachings and, of course, even more so in His actions. Peter, John and Paul reinforced this message in their letters to the church. Loving others will be a powerful tool, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy.

Love is many faceted. Love is huge. Love is a noun. Love is a verb. Love is an adverb. Love is a feeling. Love is an action. Love is God. Love can’t be exhausted. If God truly is Love then it has the attributes of God. That’s big, Love is huge.

What would our lives look like if they were all about love? How much more would we win the Battle? If we could live a life characterized by love, we could remain in Victory always even in the smallest of Battles.

So loving others and loving God needs to be our goal. The goal of having our life characterized by love. A pretty big undertaking for the biggest of attributes and if it wasn’t for God in our lives it would be impossible. God, however, does desire to be in our lives and he has given us a whole list of actions and attitudes that together will characterize our life in love.

WWJD? Easy answer- ‘love’. It is pretty silly (maybe futile is a better word) to try and figure out what Jesus would do in every specific situation. Especially in this culture, in this post industrialized nation, in this information society which is so different from that of the New Testament times.

We DO know, that in whatever ‘He would do’, it would be done in love. Maybe the bracelet we should wear is not WWJD? but HWJL?. ‘How would Jesus love?’ is probably the question we should be asking. Because loving each other is what we should be about.

I ask again; In your days of acting out, what would have been different if loving each other had been on your mind? What choices would be different if you had been in the habit of thinking ‘How Would Jesus Love?’

How would your relationships be different if right now, this very day you set out to love unconditionally the people God has put in your life? God has put your wife, your children, your mother, your father, your siblings, your work peers, your church friends and many more in your life. How would today be different if you set out to love them?

Imagine how much victory you would have in your battle if loving others were the main goal of your day! LOVE will bring us victory in our battle…guaranteed!

The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions and attitudes of love–and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battle is WON!!!

For help with the battle for sexual purity, please see Every Man’s Battle.