St. Gregory

A Lesson for today from Saint Gregory

Encourage One Another

Real encouragement is a rare commodity in the world around us. If you watch politicians they are always seeking to tear one another down, speaking openly about how everyone else is getting it wrong except them. When was the last time you heard one politician say to another "Well done, I liked that. Keep going"?

Or, if you watch sport, much of what is shouted from the terraces is thinly veiled advice rather than encouragement. One of the commentators on Radio who typifies this is Alan Green, who seems to be constantly criticising players and teams for not meeting his expectations, and yet he openly admits that he has never been a player himself.

Sadly our world suffers from what has been called "Crabology". This term originates with a Christian teacher who once went to visit his cousin who lived by the coast. One afternoon they cycled down to the local harbour where, like most small boys, they set about catching crabs. It wasn't long before they'd hooked one which they placed in a shallow tub.

"How are we going to stop it getting out?" asked the visitor.
"Oh, we just wait until we catch another one!" Came the reply.

Sure enough, they soon caught a second crab and put it in with the first. What happened next was fascinating, because every time one crab tried to climb out of the container, the other would pull it back in. The more crabs they caught, the less chance there was of escape because the others would just pull the escapee back in.

"That's amazing", said the first boy.
"That's crabology", said the second.

Sadly "Crabology" is something that we see every day, in almost every situation we come across. I've heard parents say to their children "You'll never amount to much"; I've heard teachers tell their pupils that their work is "rubbish". Husbands talk about their wives as though they were property, and wives talk about their husbands as though they were totally incompetent. Our world is suffering from "Crabology" and it eats away at who we are as surely as any cancer.

Whether we encourage someone or discourage them is a choice. We choose whether to say and do the things that build up those around us, or which tear them down. It's that simple. The Bible tells us to "Encourage one another and build one another up"; in other words, God wants His Church to be a place of encouragement, where His people are built up and not torn down. Sadly, in many Churches this is not the case. Many Churches are just reflections of the world around them rather than beacons of hope.

My prayer is that everyone who reads this will choose to be different, and together we can start to become a light to the world as God, our encouraging Father, calls us to be.

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