Impacting Another Soul

June 2, 2020

My mother was all about being the best she could possibly be and encouraging others to the same. One of the ways she did it was by collecting wonderful pieces and articles she had read and making books of good information with them. When she went to heaven, she left several dozen large scrapbooks chock full of excellent articles and vital advice for living life well in every way. She handwrote on every scrapbook, “Good Information. Don’t Throw Away.”

One yellowed newspaper clipping from an unknown author says this:

“Once upon a time it was announced that the devil was going out of business and would sell all of his equipment to those who were willing to pay the price. On the big day of the sale all of his goods were attractively displayed.

There were envy, jealousy, hatred, malice, deceit, sensuality, pride, idolatry, and other implements of evil display. Each of the tools was marked with its own price tag.

Over in the corner by itself was a harmless looking, wedge-shaped tool, very much worn, but still it bore a higher price than any of the others. Someone asked the devil what it was, and he answered, ‘That is discouragement.’

The next question came quickly. ‘And why is it priced so high even though it is plain to see that it is worn much more than these others?’

‘Because,’ said the devil, ‘it is more useful to me than all these others. I can pry open and get into a man’s heart when I cannot get him with any other tool. Once I get inside, I can use him any way that suits me best. It is well-worn because I use it on everybody I can, and few people even know it belongs to me.’

This tool was priced so high that no one could buy it, and to this day it has never been sold. It still belongs to the devil, and he still uses it effectively on men.’”

Sounds about right. The very best men and women can fall to discouragement. Discouragement leads to all kinds of failure and defeat. David prayed in Psalm 69:6 that God would help him to not “confound, discourage, or cause others to be humiliated.” He understood the seriousness of impacting another soul toward discouragement.

As we reach out to God and to making our way in the world, all of have experienced what it is to be discouraged. Knowing this, we ought to run from doing anything that would discourage someone else as they try to make progress. From Jesus’ perspective, it is no slight offense to be a “stumbling block,” particularly to those have not yet acquired adequate strength of their own. Jesus said, “There will always be offenses to come, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the offending! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin (Luke 17:1-2). The Lord considers it a serious sin to discourage others.

We are in a period of time when life is exceptionally challenging for everyone. The coronavirus and the resultant quarantining and daily changes in what we hear and learn has been traumatizing. Not being able to do our regular and helpful routines has been difficult. Not having the fellowship in church to which we are accustomed or other groups has made people feel disconnected and vulnerable. Domestic violence, substance abuse, and suicide is on the rise. Mental health is declining.

On top of that we have had the extremes in weather which caused destruction and raised anxiety. The economy is suffering. Now we have had two racially motivated murders and rioting in all of our cities. People who normally do well coping with life are struggling.

In the face of all this, social media and private conversations seem to be increasingly caustic and pessimistic. People post opinions and attack other opinions when the most authentic statement for most of us would be, “I don’t know.” More and more, people trace their struggles to an overdose of negative media. If we are believers, we cannot afford to be part of that. When we say or post something that discourages and frightens people who are already struggling, we are not being socially and spiritually responsible.

Before you make that next post or engage in that next conversation, ask yourself, ”Is this necessary? Is it going to discourage, cause dissension, or divide?” Stop yourself before you become a tool in the devil’s hand to discourage others.