“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11,12). “The brothers there [Rome] had heard that we were coming, and they Paul (and his team) traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15).
Almost every day on the calendar has been designated as a special recognition for something or someone. For instance today, September 14, if you want to celebrate something you have many choices including: “Eat a Hoagie Day”, “National Coloring Day”, and “National Sober Day” among others.
But I saw a day on our print calendar that especially caught my attention. I didn’t know there was a “National Day of Encouragement” which was recognized this past Sunday, September 12.
The day originated in 2007 as a day meant to remind others that encouragement matters. It all started when a group of high school students attending a leadership forum were asked to come up with a solution to the biggest problem that faced young people in their day. They overwhelmingly agreed that young people lack encouragement.
September 11 will always be a day full of hurt, confusion and loss for Americans as we commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attack. But the very next day we acknowledge the National Day of Encouragement. It’s a perfect opportunity to acknowledge the importance of coming together and encouraging others. Encouragement matters.
National Day of Encouragement is a day dedicated to uplifting those around us and making a positive impact, no matter the magnitude. It’s that simple.*
Today let us consider encouragement from a Biblical perspective.
Romans is a deeply theological book and chapter 1 has a panoramic view of the glorious Gospel and the depraved condition of the human race, which is foundational to an understanding of the necessity of the Gospel.
Paul had not been to Rome but a church had been established, perhaps as a result of those who returned from the Day of Pentecost which included “visitors from Rome” (see Acts 2:8-11).
Paul includes in his introduction today’s Scripture portion, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11,12).
The concept of mutual encouragement really stands out to me. That is so often the way encouragement works, it’s mutually beneficial. As Proverbs 11:25 states, “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”.
When Paul finally reached Rome in Acts 28 there’s a poignant scene, “The brothers there (in Rome) had heard that we (Paul and his team) were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15).
Let me end with an illustrative memory of mutual encouragement from some 25 years ago.
I was serving a church in New England when I received news that my dad was nearing his end on this earth. I took the first flight I could get (out of Boston as I recall) and headed to Kansas City. I connected in Dallas/Fort Worth, a huge airport with many, many gates for American Airlines. I wearily got off the plane as I prepared to walk or perhaps run to the next gate for the short connection.
Lo and behold I ran into Dave Simpson, a great friend from 1st grade who “just happened” to be heading from Springfield, MO to a business meeting in Florida. Neither of us had any idea of each other’s travel plans but it was ordained that we would each be in just the right part of the huge airport at just the right time (+/- only a few minutes and we probably would not have seen each other). But we met and were able to grab a quick bite and have a few minutes of fellowship with one another. I can say at the sight of Dave Simpson I thanked God and was encouraged and certainly hope I encouraged Dave as well.
Today how and with whom might you be mutually encouraged?
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber