ODJ: Encouragement Exchange

July 1, 2016 

READ: Acts 16:16-40 

[Paul and Silas] met with the believers and encouraged them once more (v.40).

One Sunday morning, my friend Sally announced some upcoming women’s events to our congregation. Sitting in the back, I made sure she could see my smiling face. Later she exclaimed, “You smiled at me the whole time!” I admitted that the ‘encouraging smile’ idea had come from someone else—my friend Suzy. Several months before, Suzy had beamed at me during a short presentation I made to the church family.

The apostle Paul provided just what the early church needed with his encouraging words and actions. In the city of Philippi, Paul and Silas had been unfairly beaten and imprisoned. When officials finally released them, they went to find the believers in Jesus in the area and “encouraged them once more” (Acts 16:40). These believers needed reassurance because they were new to the faith and had seen their city erupt in religious controversy (vv.20-22). Without Paul’s spiritual pep talk, they could have been overcome by doubt and confusion.

Time passed. In prison again, Paul wrote a letter to his Philippian friends, thanking them for the way they had encouraged him. He said, “You Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News . ...You sent help more than once. ...[Now] I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me” (Philippians 4:15-18).

Paul was uplifted not only by the gifts he received, but also by simply hanging out with other believers (Acts 28:15) and hearing their stories of progress and perseverance (1 Thessalonians 3:7). So “let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love...[and] encourage one another, especially now that the day of [Jesus’] return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day plan: Matthew 6:1-18

Read the following verses and think of some ways you can encourage other believers: Acts 23:11, Ephesians 4:29 and 2 Timothy 1:16. 
How could you give encouragement to someone today? Where do you go for encouragement? Why?