Above the Sun: Even Paul learned to be an encourager

You have probably heard someone talk about the fact that their mouth is always getting them into trouble. 

Yes, it is hard to be an encourager all the time. But we can all improve, and in doing so we can make a huge difference in the lives of the friends, family, co-workers, and others we interact with. In writing to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul gave us all some good guidelines for what we choose to say.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Paul knew firsthand the benefits of encouragement. A Christian brother named Barnabas helped him in the beginning stages of his ministry to gain credibility among those who knew Paul in his former life as a persecutor of Christians. Having Barnabas as an encouraging friend evidently rubbed off on Paul since the New Testament is full of examples of Paul encouraging new Christians.

In Acts 13:42-43 Paul and Barnabas had spent a Saturday at a Jewish synagogue teaching Jewish history and explaining to them how it was fulfilled in the good news of Jesus Christ. As they left, they encouraged the Jews to continue in the grace of God. The people invited Paul and Barnabas to come back the next week.

In Acts 15 the mentor of encouragement, Barnabas, left with Mark to go on a missionary journey. Paul went with Silas and put his newfound encouragement skills to work. Luke tells us that Paul went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. That’s in stark contrast to the description we read of Paul the persecutor in the earlier chapters of Acts. It is hard to imagine that someone who was once a persecutor of Christians would later write nearly half of the New Testament books! Who knows just how big of a role Barnabas’ encouragement played in helping Paul reach his full potential as an evangelist and writer? Just think how different our world would be if we all followed the example of Barnabas!

Even while Paul was in chains, he still managed to write letters that would encourage new Christians to choose words carefully. “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).

Some people are better at encouraging others through talking, some with writing, and some through acts of kindness. The best thing about telling or showing people Jesus Christ and His love for us is that the message speaks for itself, loud and clear, and brings hope to communities and nations like nothing else can. 

Have a great week!

Barrett Vanlandingham is the Youth Minister at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ. Reach him at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@ftgcc.org.

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