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Stand Watch

The Gift of Encouragement

“Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need.” (Philippians 2:25)

Some people know just what to say and do to encourage others who are going through difficult times. Their words give strength to those who are discouraged and comfort to those who are grieving. These people are particularly sensitive to God’s voice. They aren’t self-centered or unaware of the struggles of those around them. If you think about it, they are the ones we immediately seek when we enter a crisis. They are welcome visitors when we are in distress, because their just being there lifts us up somehow.

Scripture testifies of many whom God enabled to encourage others. When Moses was overwhelmed by his work, Jethro went to him and encouraged him. He gave Moses wise counsel that eased the strain he was under (Exod. 18:1-27). When Paul was imprisoned far from those who loved him, Epaphroditus risked his health and safety in order to go to Paul and minister to him (Phil. 2:25-30). Later, Paul urged Timothy to come and visit him, because Paul found strength and encouragement in Timothy’s presence (2 Tim. 4:9; Phil. 2:19-20).

Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark with him, too. Mark was the kind of friend Paul needed when he was going through a tough time (2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24). Paul also relied on Luke for encouragement. When everyone else was occupied with other things, Luke could be found with Paul (2 Tim. 4:11). Paul experienced trials throughout his life, but God sustained him by placing godly friends around him who provided support in practical and sacrificial ways. God wants to develop you – each of us – into the kind of friend who can strengthen others. The words we share and the things we do can bring immeasurable comfort and encouragement to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Look for the opportunities God places in your path to be an encourager to someone today – you can never count the prize of a good friend!

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