Links Daily Devotional

Links Players COO Jeffrey Hopper talks with long-time LPGA Tour player Tracy Hanson about the strengths that God has given to her.

Bringing Strength

Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. (Acts 15:32, NIV)

For several Mondays, long-time LPGA Tour member Tracy Hanson and I have been discussing strengths and weaknesses. We started with Tracy’s golf game, where she was pleased to say that her iron play has long been the strength of her game, but had to be painfully honest in adding that her putting is not always as she would have it be.

You and I can similarly assess our games. “The player knows,” as they say, normally meaning that a golfer knows how well he or she has struck the ball. But this can be applied to our whole game. We know what needs improvement and what we can rely on in a pinch.

The greater question is whether we are also good at assessing our lives. While Paul wrote to the Romans that they needed to consider themselves with sober judgment and not think of themselves too highly, many of us err in the other direction—we are harsh, disqualifying ourselves from any “real work” in the kingdom.

Sin hinders us, surely. Pride, deceitfulness, impurity, and the like will always get in the way of God revealing his glory through us. We must guard against these taking root in our hearts.

But when we humbly seek the Lord and ask him to guide us, we must be ready to follow, not “putting our hand to the plow” only to turn back in discouragement or weakness.

In the household of faith, we can minister to one another by giving each other the push we need to keep going. “Press on” was Paul’s example and challenge to the Philippians. And while many of us think we are only the Philippians in that context (needing encouragement), we must often also be Paul (the provider of encouragement).

When Judas and Silas gave encouragement and strength to the believers in Acts 15, they gave a godly charge. The Greek word for encouragement in this passage means both to admonish and to comfort. This word—parakaleō—literally means to call out by name. In the Bible, many names themselves bore special meaning, and to speak one’s name was to confirm their identity. Now consider one more bit of etymology: the Greek for strengthen in Acts 15:12 means to confirm.

Can you think of a more meaningful ministry than to speak affirmatively to your brothers and sisters in the faith, confirming who they are in Christ? Call a friend a “man of faith” and he is likely to… grow in faith! Call a woman one “gentle in spirit” and she is likely to… show gentle mercy. Call a child “joyful” or “patient” and see what happens when you spend time with this young one.

As fellow travelers toward eternity, we are to find the words that call out another’s God-given strengths. And then we are to deliver them!

Jeff Hopper
May 19, 2014
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