Acts 11:23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
Dwight Hill, a Christian writer, tells of two visits he and his wife received, each from a "senior Christian leader." The first had a cool, detached manner as he made dry, emotionless suggestions on how they should improve their Christian life. For several days, he wrote, "We carried his bags, pampered him in his whims, and catered to his idiosyncrasies."
When he left for his next ministry destination, they felt a mix of anxiety and relief.
A short time later a second Christian leader visited. As he was traveling with his severely infirmed wife, his circumstances were extremely trying. Still, he managed to convey a gracious, sensitive, and caring spirit.
In the course of visiting with the Hill's friends, he commented in the couple's presence, "Dwight is a faithful man." Dwight says he was amazed at how that one brief, encouraging remark bolstered him for the next week or two.
When a good Christian leader speaks of our faithfulness, we might have mixed feelings-a sheepishness about not being as faithful as we would like, along with encouragement and recommitment to persevering and growing.
As we reflect on the two Christian leaders in this story we might consider two Scriptures:
Proverbs 18:21a Death and life are in the power of the tongue ... (NKJV)
II Tim 1:16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me ...
How are we doing in the encouragement department? Do I come off as coolly detached, or as caring and compassionate? When was the last time we took someone aside and gave him or her a word of encouragement? Or put our arm around our spouse or one of our kids and said, "You are wonderful. I love you!"
Mark Twain said, "I can live on a good compliment for six months."
There are times when we must speak the truth in love knowing the truth might sting. But, we are also to speak encouragement. The cost of encouraging words is very small, but the reward to the recipient could be immeasurable.
Adapted from: Facts of the Matter, D. Hill, for June 20th, Published on Bible Explorer, Version 4, WORDsearch Corp., 1996-2007.