Most of us have no idea how much other people’s emotions, self-esteem and hopes are influenced by what we say. Paul said, ‘Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus… have been a wonderful encouragement to me.’ If you’ve never heard of them, it’s because most encouragers hate being the centre of attention. They’re happy to work in a supporting role. But without them very little would get done. The opposite of giving encouragement is spreading discouragement, and Paul says, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up… that it may benefit those who listen’ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV). Jesus said, ‘… [You'll] give account… by your words you will be justified, and… condemned’ (Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV). What you say can never be taken back, and it’ll be used as evidence for or against you one day. Dr Thomas Blackaby points out, ‘Words… can leave scars for a lifetime, and many people will never forget some of the things you’ve said to them, both good things, such as words of encouragement, and bad things, such as criticism and rebuke… Make the best possible use of words so they bring blessings on others.’ So, are your words encouraging? Can it be said that there’s ‘… nothing crooked or perverse… in them’ (Proverbs 8:8 NKJV)? Ask God to ‘Set a guard… over [your] mouth… ‘ (Psalm 141:3 NKJV) so whatever you say glorifies Him and lifts others up.
Saul of Tarsus underwent a radical transformation—the zealous persecutor of Christians became a passionate follower of Christ. Later known as Paul, he dedicated his time, energy, and talent to spreading the gospel message. What motivated him to surrender his life wholeheartedly to Jesus?
Jesus’ sacrifice of love. Before salvation, Paul had opposed all who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. At his conversion, this persecutor of Christians realized that Christ willingly died on the cross because of His love for mankind. Jesus left His heavenly home, suffered, and died so we might be reconciled to God. The Lord’s sacrifice on the cross motivated the apostle to tell others about His all-encompassing love (Eph. 3:18).
Gratitude for salvation. On the road to Damascus, Christ’s enemy became a member of His family. Paul called himself the worst of sinners, acknowledging that he was unworthy of salvation and undeserving of mercy or favor (1 Tim. 1:15-16). It was gratitude for salvation that fueled his devotion and dedication to the cause of Christ.
Power of the gospel to transform lives. The apostle’s own experience made him long to see others rescued from slavery to sin so they might experience God’s grace. He wanted many to benefit from the saving and transforming power of the gospel.
We’ve been entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the gospel. When inadequacy, doubt, or complacency keeps us silent, let’s remember what motivated Paul. Then imagine a day when loved ones will experience the peace of God, the love of Christ, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Charles Stanley