How to Encourage Yourself and maintain a clear conscience. In Titus 1:15-16, Paul is confirming the condition of a group of people Titus is tasked with changing, people with corrupted consciences. Titus needed a clear picture of what was happening, what Paul wanted to have done, and some encouragement because the picture was pretty ugly!
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Titus 1:15-16 NIV
A Look at the Church in Crete
In Titus 1, Paul lays out an extremely strong and negative case against a group in the church in Crete. He was recommending scolding or correction, sometimes severely. At the beginning of the chapter, Paul had listed the qualifications for the Elders Titus would need to appoint for the church. Then he points out the current condition of the antagonists in Crete who called themselves Christians. Then, he says this:
“They claim, “I know God,” but their actions are a slap to His face. They are wretched, disobedient, and useless to any worthwhile cause.” Titus 1:16 The Voice
That’s harsh! They have slapped God in the face, and are wretched, disobedient, and useless to any worthwhile cause, having corrupted their minds and consciences.
A Discouraging Day at Church
Paul wrote those words knowing that every believer in Crete would read this letter or have it read out loud to them! So, this wasn’t some For-Your-Eyes-Only communication. This was a public rebuke. I would not have wanted to be at church the day this was read! Talk about a discouraging day and one which may have stirred up a great deal of anger and argument.
Titus Need to Encourage and Be Encouraged
Throughout the rest of the letter, Paul is encouraging Titus and it sounds like he probably needed it. Can you imagine having to rebuke, scold, and teach a group like the one in Crete? In addition, Titus then had to find people who qualified as Elders. So, Paul built up and encouraged Titus telling him all the ways in which he was equipped and able to do the job. Titus also needed to be encouraging himself as he faced this task and Paul was his cheerleader.
“Encourage the young men in the same way: in every situation, they should learn to control themselves. Titus, you have to set a good example for everyone. Go out of your way to do what is right, speak the truth with the weight and authority that come from an honest and pure life. No one can argue with that. Then your enemies will cower in shame because they have nothing bad to say against us.” Titus 2:6-8 The Voice
So what does this have to do with encouraging yourself? We need to correctly encourage ourselves and that requires the pure truth of the Word. It seems to be much easier to be hard on ourselves than to encourage ourselves. I know everything that’s wrong with me. I can read the Word and come away feeling discouraged because, with my self-knowledge, I compare myself and believe I come up short. It’s not even that my conscience is condemning me. I just have to read about the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) and decide I’m a failure because, at the moment, I’m short on all nine of them. I’m definitely not ‘feeling’ it right now.
Jesus told a parable. in Luke 18:10-14 The Voice, that teaches us not to compare ourselves to others by putting them down and thus puffing ourselves up in pride.
Don’t Be Like the Pharisee
“Imagine two men walking up a road, going to the temple to pray. One of them is a Pharisee and the other is a despised tax collector. Once inside the temple, the Pharisee stands up and prays this prayer in honor of himself: “God, how I thank You that I am not on the same level as other people—crooks, cheaters, the sexually immoral—like this tax collector over here. Just look at me! I fast not once but twice a week, and I faithfully pay my tithes on every penny of income.” Over in the corner, the tax collector begins to pray, but he won’t even lift his eyes to heaven. He pounds on his chest in sorrow and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Now imagine these two men walking back down the road to their homes. Listen, it’s the tax collector who walks home clean before God, and not the Pharisee, because whoever lifts himself up will be put down and whoever takes a humble place will be lifted up.“
Ways Not to Encourage Ourselves
We can’t make ourselves feel better by putting other people down. If I had been a church member in Crete on the day this letter was read, I might have left patting myself on the back for not being one of the group Paul was saying were ‘useless for any good work’! But, is that really the best to way to encourage yourself?
We can encourage ourselves. We don’t have to go through some process of repeating “I love me” mantras or constantly being focused on recording how wonderful we are. Encouraging yourself has nothing to do with self-love and focusing on “me” until you become even more depressed. While we are to love ourselves, a focus on self just turns into pride.
David’s Really Bad Day
In 1 Samuel 30:6 The Voice, we see how David encouraged himself after a really, really bad day. He had come back to Ziklag with his army after winning a battle to find the city burned and their wives and children all taken captive.
“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.“
David was having a really, really bad day. A day where it would have been normal to do a little yelling at God and asking why. Instead, David sought God and encouraged, or strengthened, himself. We don’t know exactly how David did that but He also prayed, asking God for guidance. Usually, when David sought the Lord, it included prayer, praise, and worship as he sought after God’s heart.
As I was writing this, I didn’t want to write out the normal “Christian-Steps-Of-Action.” I didn’t want that because sometimes it just doesn’t help. We already know we need to pray, we need be thankful, and we need to seek God. But when you are discouraged, mad at God and/or people, or just in a deep funk, you don’t want to hear the words, “All things work together for good!!!” coming from some cheerful face! I can say that because it’s happened to me and all it did was put me in a worse mood. It wasn’t that person’s fault, it was just that I was tired of Christian clichés.
Now that I eliminated all of the clichés, what can I say about how to encourage yourself? I can say what you should not do.
What Not to Do
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Anyone or Anything. Yes, it’s sort of a cliché, but it’s true. Just stop it.
- Stop Listening to and Taking in All of the Negative, including the stuff coming from inside yourself. A deep and intensive review of everything that’s wrong in your life never changed one bit of it! It just makes you feel worse.
- Don’t Read the Bible Like it’s a Road Map for Failure. You might say, “I don’t do that.” However, we all do it. We read it with a mindset of “I need to learn more,” “I have to go deeper into the spiritual truths,” “I have to take note of where I need to be more like Jesus.” Those are all good goals but can become heavy burdens. How about reading it to find joy, peace, and be uplifted? How about reading it just because it’s beautiful? You don’t always have to find some deep, profound, spiritual truth.
Read about David and laugh because he’s so human. Do the same with Peter, Samson, Ruth, and all the others. They are just like us. In the process of enjoyment, you will learn deep truths but you don’t always have to be hyper-spiritual. Relax and enjoy what you have instead of always reading to figure out what’s missing.
Christians and Comparison
Christians have a bad habit of comparison. We compare ourselves to the world to make sure we are doing better than they are. Additionally, we compare ourselves to other Christians for the same reason. We compare ourselves to Biblical figures to see where we fall short, and we compare ourselves to ourselves to figure out what’s wrong with us.
What’s wrong with us is all the comparison. No, we don’t want to live according to the flesh, but that has nothing to do with comparing ourselves to the world or the Word. There is only One – Jesus. And we really aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to Him, we are just to be in Him, keep Him in us and obey His commandments:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Love each other in the way Jesus does.
That’s it. There is nothing to compare to. You are in Him and nothing compares to Him since He is All-in-All.
“But now make sure you shed such things: anger, rage, spite, slander, and abusive language. And don’t go on lying to each other since you have sloughed away your old skin along with its evil practices for a fresh new you, which is continually renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One who created you. In this re-creation there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian and conqueror, or slave and free because the Anointed is the whole and dwells in us all.” Colossians 3:8-11 The Voice
It’s hard to stop comparing for the reasons we discussed in Being A Good Enough Christian. We won’t go into all of that again, except to say that we need to stop. There is no value in comparison or putting ourselves down. There is a huge difference between being honest about our failures and putting ourselves down. When I’m honest about my failure, I take it to God, admit it, repent and move one. It’s done. There is no end to putting to ourselves down. It’s a bottomless pit.
What Do You Have?
We don’t spend enough time in just simply being thankful and looking around at what we have. Comparison makes what we have look shabby and that’s a lie. Part of what we have is ourselves and it’s good! You, in Jesus, are awesome. Be thankful you have flaws because, if you were perfect, you would be the loneliest person on the planet. Who wants to be around a person who thinks they are perfect? Nobody. We might be forced to but we don’t do it voluntarily. Yes, we are striving to be better but flaws keep us humble and relying on God.
Our flaws unite us in imperfection and remind us that there is only One who is perfect. They also remind us that we are forgiven and made perfect in Christ. We don’t stop trying to be better. It just means we no longer allow our imperfections to stop us from living a life of peace and joy in Christ. We don’t have to! We are free from that.
Freedom from Condemnation and Comparison
We are FREE FROM CONDEMNATION – all condemnation – what comes from inside and outside. When it comes, we can reject it. How? With the Word. You might still feel lousy, but you can quote the Word to yourself, the world and the enemy and little-by-little, your feelings will line up. Your feelings certainly won’t improve by focusing on what’s wrong, what’s bad, what you did wrong, and what others did wrong. So, stop that too!
I completely understand that it isn’t easy because our feelings line up with the fact that all these bad things are true! Bad things happen. I’ve been there and I know that the only way out is through and the only way to find the light again is to focus on Jesus and His Word even when you don’t feel like it. You don’t have to pretend you feel great when you don’t. You don’t have to pretend that your circumstances are just awesome! But speaking the truth of the Word is not pretending, because we are then operating in a spiritual realm whose precepts are more true than what we see, feel and hear. We are reaching and living upward!
What to Do When Nothing Helps
But sometimes, it feels like nothing helps. What does help is time, friends, some good worship music, and remembering what you have. Not what you had or what you want. What do you have right now? Do you have a good friend? What about a car that runs? You probably have a bed and clothing along with some food. You have the assurance of heaven and probably a Bible. If you don’t have a church, you can easily find one. You may have a job, a family, and a flower blooming somewhere nearby.
Did you know that God does not view it as a sin when we get discouraged or even angry at Him? Can those become a sin? Yes, but they don’t have to unless we allow ourselves to stay there, letting bitterness and lies grow. He does not condemn or shame us.
“If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.” James 1:5 The Voice
God Does Not Scold Us For Asking
I love this verse. Not only does God give us wisdom, He gives it lavishly and never scolds us for asking! That is so reassuring to me. When I’m down, discouraged, or just in that funk, I can ask Him for wisdom about all that is weighing me down and He will give it! He will give it lavishly and won’t scold me. He doesn’t even scold me for being in a funk! He isn’t busy examining how I feel today. He is looking at my heart to make sure it’s His and then waiting for me to turn to Him for help, assurance and uplifting. My feelings will change but He won’t.
Encourage yourself by:
- Taking the thoughts of comparison and self-condemnation captive – “We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 The Voice
- Thinking about what you have and giving thanks. “Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” Philippians 4:8 The Voice
- Turning on some worship music and entering in. “But let those who run to You for safety be glad they did; let them break out in joyful song. May You keep them safe – their love for You resounding in their hearts.” Psalm 5:11 The Voice
- Quoting the Word from a mindset of what He is giving you, not what the world has taken away or never given you. Click below to download and/or print “The Gifts From God to Me” Scripture Cards and read them out loud as often as you need to!
God is Eagerly Waiting to Talk With You
Now – go forth and be encouraged, encouraging others, and finding joy in the smallest parts of your life. Be glad you aren’t from Crete! Just kidding, but you get the idea. You may need to encourage yourself regularly and that’s fine. Just don’t forget that God is waiting eagerly for you to come and talk to Him – that’s always encouraging! And, as you encourage yourself, your conscience will be happy and say wonderful things to you straight from the mouth of the Holy Spirit.
Click Here to Download or print the Daily Devotional pages and The Gifts From God to Me Scripture Cards.
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
2 – Living By the Golden Rule
3 – Being Falsely Accused
4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation
5 – Knowing Right From Wrong
6 – What is the Power of the Holy Spirit?
7 – Submitting to Authority
8 – What is a Weak Conscience?
9 – Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel
10 – Speaking The Truth at All Times
11 – Purity of Heart and Mind
12 – 12 Steps to Overcoming Guilt and Shame
13 – Living With Integrity
14 – The Goal of Unselfish Love
15 – The Shield of Faith
16 – Leading By Example
17 – Being A Good Enough Christian
18 – Standing Firm in Your Faith