I’m sure we have heard the saying “Life is not meant to be easy” in the seventies by a politician. We all have our struggles, some days more than others. In a difficult time, accepting a word of encouragement from a follower of Christ is like gold. It lifts up your spirit and enables you to cling to that hope, and press on with the journey of life.
In today’s passage we read Paul is preparing to leave Ephesus. Before he departs he has a request. v1 “When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia.” We read that the disciples were encouraged. The Greek word used for encouragement is “paraklesis” – to come alongside.
Each of us have feelings which can be subjected to hurt, loss and grief. Paul realised that after the riot the disciples needed care. We don’t have to necessarily be in a riot to require help. It could be over a family argument, witnessing a violent situation, or a death of a close friend. Like Paul, we all will need someone who can get alongside, listen and give words of encouragement.
Stott explains, “Nothing encourages and strengthens the people of God like the Word of God.” As we read in V2 “He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece,” Paul again is encouraging the people. Paul’s teaching was a source of encouragement for those he visited.
We must not have the mindset that only certain people have the gift of encouragement. Each of us are called to care for others as part of been a follower of Christ. As you reflect on this, think about who you might be able to encourage and support today. Spend some time asking the Lord for guidance and direction on whom to come alongside and encourage as they seek to follow Christ.