We continue making our way through Acts in this week’s message out of Acts 20:1-12. Acts allows us to witness Paul’s fervor and effectiveness in sharing the Gospel, resulting in nations converted, individuals transformed and lives saved. What is his formula? How does he do it? Let’s zero in on the first three verses of Acts 12 as a clue into how Paul seemingly single-handedly changes the spiritual landscape of the ancient world. “When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months.” Encouragement is the method by which he evangelized.
But do not mistake encouragement for superficial complements and feel-good flattery. Christian encouragement begins with attention. We are attentive to the Spirit’s whisper, which begs us to simply notice. How much can we notice the goodness and Godliness in those around us? Second, we must be moved to act — to turn the encouragement into audible words. Acts turns out to be more of an account of the Spirit’s work through Paul than it is an account of Paul’s work himself. While the the Spirit’s work in Paul cannot be put in a formula, we are afforded ultimate encouragement. Because the same Spirit who worked mighty things through Paul is also in us and begging to work through us — through our encouragement — as he did through Paul’s long ago.
2 Corinthians 2:1-11 – Take note of how many times Paul uses a version of the word “comfort”. Notice the ways we are to be encouraged and to be encouragers in verses 3-7 of this section. It is the same word that shows up in Acts 12:1-12.
Jesus help me to see people as you see them. I need you to help me to see the goodness in others. Help me to say the things that will encourage them on your behalf.