So before I move along, I want to share these with you. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Encouragement – Part One through Three, you may want to do so before continuing with today’s blog post.
Just to remind you these passages show how Paul was encouraged and then we’ll see how we can bring these elements into our own lives to encourage men and women in ministry or on the mission field.
Paul had great love for the people in Ephesus. He spent between three years in this city and many became believers during that period. On Paul’s journey back to Jerusalem where he would eventually be arrested and sent to Rome, he had an encounter with the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17-21:1).
After words of encouragement to them to fulfill their duties as elders and to beware of the “savage wolves,” Paul and the elders knelt down and they prayed.
While the only mention of “building up” is from Paul, I believe Paul was encouraged by this encounter. He saw the great love these men had for God and for himself. He saw their desire to follow God’s plan for the Church. He knew their faithfulness would continue to build and grow God’s Kingdom in the future. And he was encouraged that he was leaving Ephesus in good, capable hands.
In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul shares some wonderful expressions of devotion regarding this group of people in Macedonia. In his first letter, Paul urged them to repentance and in so doing, brought about “Godly sorrow that brought repentance that lead to salvation and no regret.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 – NIV)
In two verses, Paul says he was encouraged by this group. 2 Corinthians 7:4 (NIV) says, “I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” In turn, I’m certain the people who received this letter were also encouraged.
Then in verse 13 of the same chapter, Paul says, “By all this [their repentance, eagerness, indignation, longing, concern, readiness] we are encouraged.” (2 Corinthians 7:13 – NIV)
And then Paul says he boasted about this group and that they had not disappointed. He was not embarrassed. Everything he said about them was true. (2 Corinthians 7:14) No wonder Paul was filled with joy when he remembered the church in Macedonia!
How You Can Be an Encouragement to Your Minister or Missionary
First, I believe we can pray for and with our minister. Think about it. When was the last time you prayed specifically for the things Paul prayed in Acts 20:28-32? Perhaps you never have. What powerful words these can be. Maybe it’s time to use Paul’s words during our prayer time.
And for those on the mission field, I believe we need to pray earnestly for their safety. The elders of Ephesus were saddened by the thought that they would not see Paul again. There can be real danger for our missionary friends. Please don’t forget to pray for them daily.
Second, I believe we can join them on their journey. The elders at Ephesus wept with Paul. They understood that Paul was heading to encounter his own “savage wolves.” The elders and the church of Ephesus would be there with him in prayer. It may not be possible to physically be with our missionaries, but we certainly can be with them in spirit. Allow God’s Spirit to make the connection.
Third, if we are truly able and prepared, I believe we can let our ministers and missionaries know that we are capable of carrying on or maintaining a ministry (with God’s help). Perhaps you are feeling a tug at your heart right now. It may mean it’s time to take that step forward and take the baton. You’ll know if the timing is right. God will go before you and prepare the way.
Be a joy to your minister or a missionary. Act upon their message. Be eager to do what God’s Word says. Have concern for the injustices of this world. And do not bring embarrassment to them.
I realize we are not on this earth to bring glory and honor to any man, but to lift up our God as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. But I think we see from this passage that a little Godly boasting is acceptable. The lives we live are to be a reflection of God. Oh, how I pray that I am not an embarrassment to God above all.
Well, this was an unexpected twist. And to be honest, I may find even more to add to this list as my study on encouragement continues. I can only ask that God will enlighten my heart to what His Word says about this topic.
We aren’t done with this study on encouragement. I pray that you’ll continue this biblical journey with me over the next few days as we learn how to encourage one another…
Grace and peace be yours in abundance,