Paul’s “Encouraging” Words
We all like to hear nice things don’t we? We like to hear that the economy is improving or that the job market is picking up. We like it when the stock market rises and so on. But what do you say when those things are not really the truth? Some will sugar coat the truth, sort of like serving chocolate covered liver or sugar crusted squash (if you don’t like liver or squash that is). But this isn’t really very helpful is it? Chocolate covered liver is still….liver and liver is the predominant taste.
In Acts chapter 20 we have Paul’s last words to the elders of the Ephesian church. Paul knew these elders well, having spent perhaps as many as three years of his life in the city of Ephesus. He loved them. He labored with them and for them. How nice it would have been if he could have just said nice things, things that would make them believe that everything was going to be rosy and wonderful. But Paul was a speaker of the truth. Paul knew that something different was coming down the road for the Ephesians elders. Here are his words, beginning in verse 28: 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
“Gee thanks Paul, we’re really sorry to see you go”. Paul’s words here were not sugar coated and they were not words that any of the elders wanted to hear but they were the truth. Paul knew what was going to happen and he did not hold back. Now, he didn’t say these difficult words in a harsh or mean way, but he told the truth. Sometimes in our lives, “encouraging” words are not nice words. Sometimes the truth of the situation can be difficult but we need to say what we see and what we believe to be the truth. Paul would not have done the Ephesian elders any favors by not telling them the truth. We don’t do anyone any favors either by covering up something that needs to be said. “Speak the truth in love” is a great way to live your life. We can learn from Paul’s “encouraging words”. Let’s tell the truth, even if that truth is difficult to hear…..oh, also, let’s not forget to pray for the one that we have to deliver that message to…