Ephesians 4: 29
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for the building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
She delighted in sitting down to drink tea with anyone who was willing to slow down for some conversation. Even though she spent most of her adult life sipping inexpensive coffee, in her later years, Mom switched to tea because of the health benefits. Ginger, herbal and green tea from a box were among her favorites.
I grew up drinking coffee, but in the last couple of years, have had to radically reduce my caffeine consumption, and I’m trying to develop a taste for some different flavors. So far, I have taken a liking to decaffeinated vanilla chai tea. Mom was always encouraging me to try a variety, so that I, too, could enjoy the health benefits.
But it was never about the tea.
An invitation to tea was Mom’s way of inviting you to be present with her during the five years she dealt with ovarian cancer. To chat about whatever was on her mind or yours. Tea was one way in which she sought to bring people together, to create and build community and to fill people’s spiritual cups. She was living in obedience to Ephesian 4:29.
Several years ago, Mom taught yoga in the basement of her home. She enjoyed this and spent hours planning the routines, and afterwards, all her yoga ladies were invited to tea upstairs in the kitchen. This was the real purpose for which the women convened. I was never a part of the “the yoga/tea club,” primarily because I still lived out of state at the time, and underage. The average age was 60 years and older. These ladies were her besties and they had unique and close relationships. I have been told that there was much laughter, love and meaningful discussion about husbands, kids, health issues and faith. And then the real tea connoisseurs of the group eagerly revealed new flavors and ways of brewing.
At Christmastime last year (2021), Mom gave me a beautiful, tall mug with a matching saucer. On the saucer, hand-painted cardinals perch on bouquets of what look like white daisies enclosed in a box. Three cardinals, each perched on one picture frame of daisies. Mom loved cardinals. To her, they symbolized the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even though I have 10 other mugs, I won’t drink my tea in anything else.
By November 30, 2022, she had passed into the heavenly realm, and now I imagine her enjoying tea with dearly beloved friends who have gone before her to their heavenly home. How I wish I could join her, just one more time. Please? Does heaven offer any guest passes?
In what ways can you and I bring people together to encourage and build up their faith? God calls us to be intentional about this. How can we edify others and fill their cups? This can be done in multiple ways, depending on our gifts. Mom was so gifted in the art of encouragement. She filled her own cup with encouragement from God’s word everyday.
Different people are encouraged in different ways, and it often takes Holy Spirit discernment to encourage in an effective way, so it’s definitely worth praying about.
Each day we have opportunities to support and inspire family members, fellow workers, friends, neighbors, pastors and even total strangers. People always need help and affirmation in their daily lives.
Encouragement in the body of Christ is as critical as water within this cultural wasteland of insults, heart-break, challenges and competition. When an encouraging word comes our way, we eagerly gulp it down like a cold drink in the desert.
Help us recognize and be sensitized to those moments when someone in our realm of influence needs encouraging or affirming words from us. Forgive us when we become so consumed in our own world that we miss valuable opportunities. Enable us to release any self-consciousness of what others might be thinking and be obedient to the Holy Spirit guidance. Give us the words we need to build each other up and the courage to say them at the right time. May the Holy Spirit convict us of any unwholesome talk. Thank you, Lord, for all the encouragement in Your word.