“After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he went to see [Aquila and Priscilla]. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads!.. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’ And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
“After this,.. Paul set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila… They came to Ephesus, and he went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, ‘I will return to you if God wills,’ and he set sail from Ephesus. When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.” Acts 18:1-2,4-11,18-23
Paul knew his calling, and steadfastly was ‘occupied with the word.’ But his life was not trouble-free; in fact, he knew he would suffer for Jesus’s sake, and sometimes the toil and travel took their toll. At just the right moments, his loving Lord brought encouragement by way of cohorts coming alongside in ministry, new converts responding to his teaching, and even His own direct, personal words addressing his concerns. How kind is our Father! (Acts 9:15-16)
Encouragement: the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope; to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; hearten; persuasion to do or to continue something; to spur on. From en- “make, put in” + corage “courage, heart.” When God calls us to follow Him, He not only directs and equips us, but provides the encouragement we need to keep on and not lose heart. He fills us so we can keep pouring out for others. As we make fellowship and obedience a priority, He shows up, using the fruit of our perseverance as a goad to continue. (Philippians 4:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Peter 1:3)
Do we notice, and express gratitude for, the encouragement God gives? How can I put wind in another’s sails? In whom can I inject courage by offering truths that embolden, prayers that support, friendship that comforts, help or hospitality that refreshes? (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Lord, buoyed and envigorated by encouragement I have received, may I actively encourage others in faith and love toward You.