When he had gone through those regions and had given the believers much encouragement, he came to Greece… (Acts 20:2)
Paul returned to the congregations he had founded because he knew they needed support. He encouraged them by saying that Jesus was always with them, proud of their efforts, and would share their struggles. Paul would also encourage them to stay strong by reminding them that they were working with Jesus to save hearts, souls, and lives.
Recently a friend asked why I was doing this project on encouragement. This is how I responded: “I’m doing it because I see so much discouragement all around. Having gone through my own season of discouragement, I’m keenly aware of what it feels like and I know just how much difference a word of encouragement can make.”
One of the great gifts we can give to each other are words of encouragement. Just as Paul knew how important it was for him to circle back to those congregations, we need to circle back and check in on those who matter to us.
If you’re worried about someone, inquire. If someone’s acting out of sorts, ask. If someone has gone silent, send a message. If they don’t respond, send another one. When someone’s in a slump, offer lunch. If someone needs to talk, listen. If someone’s in trouble, come alongside. Circling back, listening, and sharing encouraging words can indeed save someone’s heart and soul and life.
Giving words of encouragement cost so little. Not receiving words of encouragement when we lose our own way, wonder how to carry on, question if what we do matters, can cost so much. Look at the wake of your life. Do you see more discouragement or encouragement behind you and around you?
When my friend asked why I’m doing this project, I told her I was doing it to encourage others. What I didn’t say is that I’m also doing it to encourage myself.
I want to encourage you to be an encourager. For someone else’s sake. And, for your own. It costs so much when we don’t. It blesses so much when we do.
- Who needs to be lifted up, praised, and encouraged in your life? Will you do so? If so, is today a good day to start? If not, why would you ever withhold what someone else needs?
- How might you need to be encouraged right now? Instead of expecting others to guess, decide, or know what you need, what would it take for you to be strong enough and humble enough to ask for it?
- As you go about your life, do you spread more discouragement or encouragement? If the former, is that really how you want to be known? If the former, how might you need to change?