Today's Devotional Thought
February 16, 2010 by Rachel Piferi
Have you ever read through Paul’s letters where he is offering encouragement and instruction to Timothy and Titus and Philemon and to the Romans, Corinthians, the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Galatians, the Philippians, and the Thessalonians? If you haven’t ever read these books back to back, then I recommend that you start with Romans and read through Hebrews. It may take you a couple of days or even up to a week to get through these books, but I highly recommend that you read them.
What is really interesting when you read these books in succession is that you see the consistency in his words to these various groups. And, over the next few days, we will explore some of the themes in these letters. One of the big themes that emerges throughout his letters is that of encouragement. Paul both gives and receives encouragement through his letters and correspondences with various people. And, while Paul is very clear that his strength comes from God and God alone, the people in his life were a great source of encouragement throughout his ministry. And, his letters to the people in his life demonstrate the need to give and receive encouragement, as well as the ways that we can encourage others.
In Hebrews 3, we are instructed to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness” (v. 13). In this verse, we see the importance of daily interaction with other believers and daily encouragement from one another to deal with the issues of each day. And like Paul instructs throughout the New Testament, we should encourage each other daily with a focus on the future coming of the Lord (I Thesalonians 4:18). Our encouragement comes through a reminder that the Lord is coming and we will be reunited with Him forever. And, when we encourage, we need to share that reminder with others. Our encouragement and hope does not come in the form of ending suffering on this Earth. It comes from a reminder that someday we will be reunited with our Father in heaven and at that time, all suffering will end for those who believe.
When you encourage others, remember Paul’s focus on the future coming of our Lord being the ultimate source of strength, contentment, and joy in the face of trials. Adversity on this Earth will end someday and on that day, we will be gloriously reunited with God in heaven. And, in the meantime, we can gain comfort from knowing that God is with us. And, as Paul says in II Corinthians 1, we can encourage others by sharing how God has comforted us in our trials. And, even when our trials seem too much to bear (as Paul describes many of his were), we can seek refuge in God and gain strength from Him. And, we can then share our experiences with others as an encouragement to them.
Paul’s letters to various people and groups were written to encourage and instruct others. He had experienced much and had much to say to others as they were growing in their faith. His letters are a great model for how we should guide, love, and encourage others. It is also very important to remember that Paul was one of the strongest witnesses for Jesus Christ in the Bible. He was firmly grounded in the Lord and gained his strength from God through all sorts of adversities. And even though he was an amazing source of encouragement to many believers, he also needed to receive encouragement from other believers. In many of his salutations, he starts with a desire to mutually encourage each other. This should be a glaring reminder to us that everyone, even the strong individuals around us, needs our encouragement. We all need to encourage one another daily so that none of us may be hardened and we need to both give and receive encouragement so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Follow Paul’s example and encourage someone today.