Quote Originally Posted by WeberHome View Post
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1Thess 5:14b . . comfort the discouraged

A discouraged person is someone who's given up all hope that a situation will improve or change; viz: despairing.

In order to obey that directive, it's necessary to become personal with the people with whom you attend church. Too many Christians are like little islands of humanity in church. They warm a pew on Sunday morning and then get up and leave without bothering to spend even one minute mingling. They don't attend Sunday school because in Sunday school you meet people-- you associate with them; you get to know them, and they get to know you.

As disagreeable as that might be for private types of Christians, Sunday school is the best place in church to go for sympathy, for encouragement, and for support. Unfortunately, not many Christians can deal with negativity; and tend to distance themselves from people down in the dumps.

NOTE: In Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book "Ten Stupid Things That Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives" she lists men's propensity to fix things. In other words: instead of simply lending a sympathetic ear to people's problems, some men tend to see people with problems as "broken" and in need of repair; and then of course they take the initiative to begin offering unsolicited remedies. No; the idea is to console the discouraged, not to "fix" them.

But even Sunday schools have their problems. If the class size is enormous, then you will be swallowed up and no more visible than a termite in the floor boards. Look for small classes; especially those where the people sit around tables rather than in rows of chairs. You get to meet people around tables, while rows of chairs tend to isolate people from one another.

And don't forget your church's pastors, deacons, and elders. They need encouragement and support too just like anybody else. Don't ever assume your leaders are rocks who don't need anybody. No, they're only human, and if they're truly humble, they'll really appreciate your interest in their welfare-- usually.

I once complimented a young speaker at a men's breakfast about the lecture he delivered that morning. He glared at me with daggers-- his mouth a tight grimace, his eyes narrow slits of hate and suspicion --and turned away without speaking a single word in response. That young man's reaction took me by surprise; chilling me to the bone and causing me to forget everything he said that day up in front. Obviously he was a rock in his own mind and insulted by encouragement from the audience. Well, I kept my distance from then on. God pity a church with people like that on staff.
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That last part is what I go through all the time with people I come in contact with when I try to give some positive comment of encouragement. It is a strange phenomenon that I am surprised to hear someone else talk about.