Butterflies danced the rumba in my stomach.
What will they think?
This may be embarrassing.
Do I even belong here?
Have thoughts like mine ever pestered you?
Two years ago, my friend, Robin Dance and I started a local chapter of Word Weavers International, a Christ-centered writing critique group. At the first meeting, I was excited until it was my turn.
As per Word Weavers guidelines, after someone read my words aloud, the group critiqued my writing. Old patterns of people-pleasing surfaced as I wondered what the responses would be. Although I sat among kind women, I felt vulnerable instead of thankful for help.
I breathed a sigh of relief when my turn ended. The group pointed out strengths in my writing I hadn’t noticed.
Great! I’ll keep using that technique.
They also made suggestions to correct or clarify my words.
Oh, I didn’t notice that. How much better the piece will be with their input. Thank you, Lord.
Now I see that as fellow group members highlight strengths and offer help for weak areas, we grow stronger as writers in a nurturing environment.
Isn’t the purpose of Christian fellowship similar—to encourage fellow believers, thus strengthening our walk with Christ?
Not only does spending time with other Christ-followers kindle friendships and help protect us from Satan’s attacks (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), but it also provides a forum for giving and receiving encouragement and sharpening biblical insight.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…Hebrews 10:24-25
Why is “stir up” paired with encouragement in this verse? In food preparation, utensils like spoons, whisks, and mixers incorporate air (think meringue peaks) and combine ingredients for palate-pleasing tastes and textures.
If a teaspoon of cinnamon remains at the bottom of a bowl filled with banana nut bread ingredients, the flavor will go undetected and the baked product won’t be as tasty. Stirring lifts that flavor and aroma to the top and gently blends it with others.
Christian friends can “lift” the gifts of others to the surface by pointing out strengths. They may even highlight opportunities for service while being cautious to suggest and not coerce.
Group members can also whisk in biblical wisdom and hope when challenges arise. A hand on the shoulder and the promise of prayer add sweetness to fellowship.
Consider the results of mixing encouragement into companionship. Individuals gain strength as they share Truth. Also, as each person sprinkles in unique ingredients of God-assigned gifts, the taste and fragrance of His love permeates the church and wafts outward to others.
Has the spoon of Christian fellowship stirred you to love and good works? I had a lesson to learn before that could happen to me.
As a young adult, after years of wanting to be more like my friends Susan, Cynthia, and Connie, I learned that God wants me to identify and imitate the characteristics of Christ I see, not other people who display them.
Association with these ladies did, however, show me the error of some of my ways as well as provide pictures of gentleness, patience, and love. Spending time with dear friends led me to ask God to add those aspects of His character into my life.
How kind of God to institute the precious gift of Christian fellowship as a stirring tool for our good and His glory.
Would you join me as I evaluate my participation?
- Do I engage in fellowship that prompts me to love and serve more faithfully?
- Am I promoting love and good works in my circles of influence? Am I listening well to others as I seek to encourage them?
- Which characteristics of Christ does my life reflect?
I do hope you’ll share today in the comment section.
- How does spending time with other believers strengthen you?
- How do you or how could you stir encouragement into Christian fellowship?
To read more about my friendship with Robin, click here Robin Dance. Please share the link with writers you know who may be interested in the information about Word Weavers International that Robin includes.
Bible verses are taken from the ESV.