Romans 1:11-12, “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye man be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me”
Would you define yourself as an encourager? Encouraging others is a vital ministry, especially the encouragement that a pastor receives from his church congregation. In L. O. Dawson’s autobiography, he told about a minister who had died. At the service of his funeral, the church was filled to overflowing. Various speakers had come to the pastor’s funeral who praised the virtues of their deceased friend. When it was Mr. Dawson’s turn to address the congregation, he affirmed the truthfulness of the kind and gracious words that had already been spoken.
However, he then told the audience that if as many of them had been in attendance at the regular services of the church as were there at the funeral service, their pastor would still be alive. Dawson then made this shocking observation to the grieving congregation, “Empty pews broke your pastor’s heart. He didn’t know of your love for him. He died for lack of the things you have today so beautifully said and done.” The story in Dawson’s book concluded with this very convicting remark, “More preachers die from broken hearts than from swelled heads.” My brethren, may it be said of us as it was of Job; “Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees” (Job 4:4).
My brethren, encouraging others within the church, our friends, neighbors, and even co-workers is a vital ministry that every believer should practice each day. When was the last time you said an encouraging word to someone? While writing this blog, I was mindful of the Apostle Paul. Even though he was sitting in prison and benefiting from Timothy’s fellowship, He planned to send Timothy to minister to the Philippians and learn how they were doing. He chose Timothy because all others focused on themselves rather than on Christ (Philippians 2:21). A good report from him would encourage Paul (Philippians 2:19).
Epaphroditus is another person mentioned in God’s Word who practiced selfless encouragement. If you remember, he was a representative from the Philippian church. While visiting and helping Paul, he had become sick and nearly died. However, his greatest concern wasn’t over his own critical illness, but that his home church had heard about it and he didn’t want them to be unduly distressed.
My brethren, we can see in Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus the secret of true encouragement – self-giving without self-pity. Do you want to be an encourager? Remember, the ultimate source of encouragement isn’t people but God. Moreover, as we think about our relationship with Christ and the people God has placed around us, we would also do well to consider the importance of our greetings (Ruth 2:1-13). Are “good morning” and “God bless you” just empty, insincere phrases coming from our mouth? Or do our words show that we truly care for those whom we are addressing?
A heartfelt word and greeting can energize the weary and encourage the lonely.