A Son, Reading, and Encouragement

This morning I had one of those moments that makes me love being a dad. Our middle son is smart, intelligent, goofy, and loud; but he has trouble getting things to stick in his mind. It is not that he refuses to pay attention, he tries very hard. It simply takes more time for his brain to accept new information than it takes some people.

As this school year starts, he has been working very hard on learning to read, but keeping everything straight in his head has been an effort. So this morning, when he came running into my office with his book in his hand, a smile from ear to ear, and his mother struggling to keep up, I immediately stopped what I was doing to listen.

When he read those 5 words to me, he could hardly get them out for all of his excitement. Shea told me afterward that when he read them out loud in the schoolroom this morning, the rest of the boys jumped up and down with excitement, congratulating their brother for his hard work and accomplishment.

As I think about those moments in their aftermath, I am reminded of an important spiritual point. When we have a brother or sister who has struggled with confidence in their Christian life, or dealt with great difficulty in trying to remove a sin from their life, or has faced great hardship and made it through to the other side, how do we respond? Do we think to ourselves: “it’s about time,” or, “I wonder what took them so long?” Do we half-heartedly acknowledge their efforts, but think to ourselves how much easier it should have been? It should not be this way.

Each of us have our mountains to climb that for another is but a small hill. When it comes to the Christian life, the important matter is not how quickly you reach the top, but that you continue to strive to reach it. As Christians, we should always be joyful and excited when that struggling Christian finds the confidence to re-dedicate their life. When the soul that has struggled with addiction has finally made progress in kicking the habit. Or when the one who has struggled to understand God’s Word finally has the light bulb moment.

Everyone does not reach the same plateaus at the same time, and we should always be grateful that God does not expect us to. Let us always encourage our friends, loved ones, and brethren. Let us be those that others can look to knowing that we will build them up, not tear them down. Because the goal of Christianity is to reach the finish line, not to get there first.

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