Sometimes I receive emails or messages from blog readers who encourage me about the things I share in my rambling posts and devotions. By taking those few minutes to send me a hug and share a little of how this blog lifts their day they are inspiring me to be a better Jenny, a more thoughtful and appreciative person, and to seek more deeply the riches of a life lived for Jesus.
Unlike ripples in a pond which clearly spread in widening circles after a pebble is tossed into the water, when we take time to encourage each other we rarely see how far that blessing will travel, but believe me, it does travel.
When we encourage, we are teaching others to encourage.
When we inspire, we help others to inspire.
When we offer genuine praise, we are building one another up.
When we serve with a full heart, we are walking in humility and displaying Christ in our character, just as He who made Himself a servant displayed to us through His own example when He walked and lived among men.
But there are times when we do not stop to think about another, our mind being self-focused on our own agenda or troubles. We probably have no intention of being mean or careless with our words and actions, yet we are, and instead of being an encourager we stamp on others with our heavy boots of thoughtlessness.
Yes, perhaps we're having a bad week or life is nothing more than a weary hike up Struggle Hill - but we can't use that as an excuse for our behaviour and responses. We just can't.
Christ hung on a cross, naked and shamed (Hebrews 12:2), yet still showed compassion (Luke 23:34).
This past year I've come to appreciate some lovely bloggers who share from their lives a wealth of encouragement to others with no intention of personal gain, only a desire to extend kindness, inspiration and a cheer from the sidelines.
Imagine if we all offered encouragement like this in our day to day lives?
I think of the checkout operator at my local supermarket, the lady who delivers our parcels, the neighbour we haven't yet gotten to know, and even the people we see so often that they may have become invisible.
A few kind words, a thankful gesture, a welcome and grateful smile...these are gifts of encouragement that cost us nothing, but may mean the world to the person receiving it.
Just some food for thought in the week ahead.