As I was reading the book of Acts this morning, it struck me how much Paul “encouraged the brothers,” especially after he experienced difficult things, and how much he was encouraged by the Holy Spirit and by others.
Encouragement is often seen as a very feminine thing that includes mugs and muffins and compliments. But the encouragement of Scripture was gritty, and necessary.
The truth is when the hostilities are strong faith gets tested. When people suffer and pay a high price for their faith, they need encouragement.
But why wait until faith is tested on a national level? Each of us is tested in our own ways. Not about staying as a believer, but about continuing to be strengthened in the fact that God is good, He loves us, He is fighting for us, and that we are His treasured possession. These things get tested in the valleys of everyone’s life.
It seems like whenever Paul met with the believers, his ministry was one of encouragement.
- When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. (Acts 11:23)
- After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them.(Acts 16:40)
- They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. (Acts 27:36)
- My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ (Col 2:2)
- Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. (1 Thess 3:7)
- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Rom 1:12)
For Paul it wasn’t just about giving encouragement, but receiving it as well. He didn’t set himself up above them, but had the goal of mutual encouragement (Rom 1:12).
It begs the question, when I’m with other believers, how do we mutually encourage each other in the Lord?