I have come to love Tuesdays. Over 3 months ago my brother Mark approached me and our cousin Steven about meeting together and seeking to disciple each other and encourage each other as men. Mark’s desire was that we could sharpen each other just like the Bible says in Proverbs 27, as iron sharpens iron so does a man sharpen a man.
Mark leads us to do that though a time of sharing, prayer and a time of studying certain passages from the Bible each week and then sharing about these passages on Tuesday mornings.
One of the passages we have looked at this week came from 2 Corinthians 7. In this second letter to the church at Corinth, I believe Paul was more transparent in this letter than any other letter he wrote.
He wanted the church to know that he experienced the blessings of ministry but also the burdens. He opens up about the praises but also the pain. In chapter 7 Paul Paul pours out his heart, “When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside.”
As it is said in today’s language, Paul just got real. In speaking for himself and his ministry partners, he laid bare his soul. He said they had no rest or relief and were weary in the war; they were discouraged and downcast and ready to lay it all down. Paul put it in simple terms, they faced battles without and battles within.
Ever been there? Have you felt like you just could not catch a break, must less catch your breath. Fighting battles from those who would stand against you and at the same time battling your own fears and insecurities. If Paul could be honest, please Lord, help us all to do the same!!
I believe the first step to victory comes when we are willing to admit the battle is not only real but rough!
But Paul does not just go into full blown pity party mode and forget the goodness of God. As a matter of fact, what I also love about this letter is how Paul shows us that God brings comfort to the afflicted and will come to our aid as His children. Throughout this letter Paul mentioned how God does this.
It is through His deliverance and power, it is by the prayers of others, it is by His grace. It is also by and through His people. God will send an encourager our way. In this chapter, it was the arrival of one person, Titus.
Titus was a young preacher if you will that Paul would send to different churches and cities to encourage the work that Paul and his team had established. In this case, Paul had sent him to Corinth.
As Paul is writing this, I think he goes back to the day he was so overwhelmed and feeling so discouraged and listening to the voices from without and within. He was ready to give in to them, but just about that time someone yelled out across the camp, I think I see Titus coming down the road.
By the time he got to where Paul and the others were, it was like God had opened a window of heaven and sent down what could be described like a cool breeze on a hot day. Just seeing Titus, they felt refreshed!!
Listen how Paul described it, “But God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us by the arrival of Titus.” Amplified Bible
Have you been there? I know I have. Praise God for the people God has used to refresh me just by the power of their presence and giving a good word!
Can one person’s arrival make that that big of a difference? It can if they are sent by God and have the gift of encouragement! Let us flip that question and pose it differently, can one person's departure make that much of a difference?
In other words, we all know and have experienced the difference that can come into a room when an encourager comes in and we have known the feeling when a discourager leaves the room.
Titus was an encourager. He did this by his very presence and by sharing good news of the work God was doing at Corinth. This news took Paul from the pits of despair to the mountain top of delight. The power of an encourager has that effect.
This very week I had someone call me Sunday afternoon and encouraged my heart and then shared this little nugget of truth. It speaks to the heart of the power of encouragement.
Flatter me and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may forgive you.
Encourage me, and I will never forget you!
Wow, what a truth. This was exactly what Titus had done. What is awesome in how this all works is that the Corinthian church had refreshed Titus, Titus then was able to refresh Paul, and then Paul was able to pour that refreshment right back into the church at Corinth by this letter.
A letter that would not only bless the Christians of that day, but over 2,000 years later, would encourage Christians today.
One blesses one and then that one blesses one and then so and so on. Thank God for encouragers.
Do we not thank God for those people who have been a Titus in our life in the past and for those who act as a Titus right now in the present!
Go one step more and let's drill down a little here. Are you a Titus to someone?
Do people love to see you come into a room, gathering or meeting or do they love to see you leave? You know what I am talking about, there are those people who have the spiritual gift of discouragement!!! =)
May God help us all be more like Titus! Never diminish the power of presence and the power to speak a good word.
Warren Weirsbe, a long time Bible commentator, really brings this home:
But the arrival of Titus was a source of great comfort to Paul. He admits he was “cast down” (downcast—v. 6), but that the arrival of his friend brought him great relief. This is the way Christians ought to help one another. We ought to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2); encourage one another (Heb. 10:25); minister to one another (1 Peter 4:10–11). Christ sent the disciples out two by two, knowing that “it is not good for a man to be alone” (cf. Gen 2:18) even in Christian service. Lonely Christians are often defeated Christians. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 states that “two are better than one.” What a privilege and responsibility it is for Christians to encourage one another! When Elijah thought he was the only one faithful to God, he began to backslide. Jonah ministered alone and developed a bitter spirit.
This week I have had several people be that Titus in my life. I thank God for them, and I want to be that person for others.
By the way, let me just mention a few of those: my wonderful, amazing wife and daughter, Courtney and Mikalyn; my disciple group of Mark and Steven; my family; our church family; great friends and other pastors; and all of you who take the time to read, share and leave a comment on my blogs, videos, or scriptures I may post, you refresh me! Thank you.
Thank you, Lord for every Titus, and may their tribe increase!!