Acts 20:1-6: Be an encourager.

“When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” NIV UK

Do you know what strikes me about these verses? It’s the thought that, after all he had been through, you would imagine that Paul himself needed encouragement. Yet he just got on with encouraging others. He lived an unselfish life of exemplary Christian service. He didn’t look to get, but always to give. He was a true leader; a great man. As a ‘branch’ rooted in Christ, the ‘Vine’, the ‘fruit’ he grew was a tasty Christ-likeness. Paul could be other-person focussed because he was in Jesus, and Jesus was in him.

Here’s a thought: if you want to be encouraged, be an encourager. Paul didn’t encourage out of self-centred motives, and neither should we. Nevertheless it is true, that as you seek to lift up others, you yourself will be lifted up. Don’t ask me how it works, but it clearly does. If you endeavour to be an encourager, you yourself will be encouraged.

‘Oh, master grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul’ (From ‘Make me a channel of your peace’ by Jon Cohen).

It is also true that there can be great encouragement in being part of a team. No doubt Paul found encouragement from those who ‘’accompanied’’ him (4, 5), even as he gave out to others.

PRAYER: Help me Lord to live an outward-looking life, always seeking out someone to encourage for your Name’s sake; never failing to see that you are my