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Back-Handed Compliment (Devotional 2 of 2)

Daily Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3-4

Scripture Focus: Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more… (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)

Devotional Thought: Have you ever been commended for doing something well and then heard something like, "Now, go out and do even better!" I call those types of things "back-handed compliments." They feel good, but maybe there’s a little sting in them, too.

Paul's letter to the Thessalonians had a "back-handed compliment." After commending them for loving one another, he urges them to "do this more and more." It is nice to be encouraged by other believers, especially those “spiritual giants” in your life whom you deeply admire and respect. But, rarely does it stop with a compliment, allowing you to pat yourself on the back in self-pride. These words of encouragement are meant to help us grow, and who has ever grown after feeling as though they have perfected something in their own strength? There will always be areas for growth in our Christian lives, and it is our true friends who will lovingly point out both the strengths and the weaknesses.

When confronted with the conviction that we should address the splinter in our brother or sister’s eye, let us first remember to pray over the plank in our own eye. Then, after repenting of our own sin, we can follow Paul’s lead. He did not simply tell the young Christians of the early church what they should not be doing, he also encouraged them in love. Like Paul, we should stand firm for the truth in love, and be receptive when our brothers and sisters do the same.


Prayer: Help us, Lord, because we are creatures who are quick to think the best of ourselves and the worst of others. Give us the grace to accept admonition, and the love to give encouragement to others - to spur them on to good works. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 27.11-14

11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

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