Christians can be discouraged. Deeply so. When you’re working for The Lord, there’s not always someone who will say you’re doing a good job, but there never seems to be a shortage of those willing to point out when you’re not. Where time is spent discouraging others and putting them down, it should be time spent encouraging them in The Lord and praying for them with love, not judgment.
Much could be written to the guilty for doing this to someone, but the focus here is on the discouraged – the ones who once ran well, but gave up the fight.
Who Hindered You?
It hurts when criticisms come from anyone, but it’s worse when it comes from other Christians. Even in one’s true service for God, there are those who will critique the work so much that one of two things will happen. It will either cause the person to become more dedicated, realizing only Satan could be behind such discouragements, or it will cause him or her enough pain that they stop altogether.
In Galations 5:7, the question is asked, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"
Was it another church member? Was it your pastor? Someone in your family? The truth is, the only one who can really hinder us in our service for God is ourselves. We can blame others, we can become sad or angry about things that were said that shouldn’t have been, but when all is said and done, we are the ones who were given the ability to do or not do a certain thing. Unless someone physically held us back or tied us down, the only ones who can get in the way of our work for The Lord is you and me.
It’s important to take a hard look at ourselves sometimes – not in the sense to kick us when we’re down, but to offer a hand in getting back up. Just as it doesn’t make us less of a Christian to "make [our] calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10) at different times in our lives, it doesn’t make us less of a Christian to consider some of the blame in a matter might point back to us. In fact, looking at our own faults and weaknesses can make us stronger because it causes us to cling to the one who is stronger, as the Apostle Paul once said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "…for when I am weak, then am I strong."
For Christ’s Sake
Once we realize who has really been holding us back, another question we could ask ourselves when feeling discouraged is, "Who are we working for?" Is it for everybody else? Or is it for The Lord?
The Bible often teaches to put others before ourselves, such as in Philippians 2:4 where it’s written, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Christ did this, so we should follow His example, as it goes on to say in the next verse, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
The things we do should be for the support, the encouragement, the comfort and edification of those around us. "Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers," Paul clarifies in Ephesians 6:6-7, "but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men."
When we sing, we sing for The Lord. When we pray, we pray to God. Everything we do, even the things we purposely do for others or the things we hope will encourage others, is first for Christ. Above all, we belong to Him and therefore our works, our lives, our very beings belong to Him as well.
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." (Colossians 3:23)
Labor for The Lord
When the things you do are sincerely in the name of The Lord, you can rest assured your labor is not in vain. He knows your heart and He knows all that you’re going through – when it’s right and when it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter what others say about you or about the things you strive to do for God. It only matters what He thinks.
Labor is called labor because it’s hard, not because it’s easy. If it were easy, then it would be known as playing for The Lord, not working for Him.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:58)