Acts: On Being Discouraged

Read: Acts 17:32-18:22

While I’m a proponent of the old adage, never say never, I’m confident in making this statement: any endeavor that runs counter to culture will be met with resistance. If you’re doing something that’s “never been done that way,” be prepared for a bumpy ride. After reflecting on yesterday’s post, I thought this was a good time to pause and emphasize how Paul was encouraged in a variety of ways so when we run up against those who sneer (Acts 17:32), become abusive (Acts 18:6) or attack us (Acts 18:12), we might find encouragement.

It’s one thing to simply suggest we should ignore the negative press, but it’s another to look directly at the attacks and find where the Spirit is sending encouragement. It’s in the midst of attacks where we can lose our minds, well, at least that’s where I’m most vulnerable. How about you?

At the end of Acts 17, Paul has little to be encouraged about. He’s invested significant time in Athens, only to be sneered at and rejected by most. While “some believed” and wanted to learn more, I can’t help but conclude he was pretty depressed as he traveled to Corinth.

Luke shows us how Paul is able to ride the waves of discouragement on the shoulders of believers who demonstrated their love during the trials. I have to believe this helped form Paul’s thoughts on spiritual gifts, love, and roles in the church that we read in his letters to the churches he planted.

Aquila and Priscilla – Acts 18:1-2

On arrival in Corinth, Paul was greeted by fellow tentmakers Aquila and Priscilla. They became partners in ministry as Aquila and Priscilla exercise their gift of hospitality to encourage Paul. It’s a great reminder for us to develop true friendships as we do ministry. Few things encourage a brother or sister in Christ as a loving Christian family.

Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia – Acts 18:5

The arrival of Silas and Timothy greatly encourages Paul. As mentioned in the previous post, Paul is able to refocus on his dominant gifts as a preacher, teacher, and evangelist.

Titius Justus – Acts 18:7

Paul shook out his clothes at the Jews that opposed him, but God opened the door of the home next to the synagogue: Titius Justus. As simple as this sounds, this is a significant gesture of kindness that provided Paul with a space to relax. Don’t discount the need for rest.

Crispus and his Household – Acts 18:8

The Jews, as a whole, are resistant to Paul’s message, but here we find the synagogue ruler, Crispus, and his entire family were converted. This is a great boost to his ministry and probably a huge benefit to the church in Corinth.

The Vision – Acts 18:9-10

No doubt, the greatest encouragement was from Jesus Himself in a vision to Paul. It’s important to see how God reassures His troubled servants at crucial times. Such comfort is a welcome relief in times of difficulty.

The Result

Paul’s ministry was fruitful and he was able to serve in Corinth for eighteen months. His letters to the church, First and Second Corinthians, give us some great insight into the struggles he fought against in those days. I look forward to re-reading those letters soon!

Lord, I’m so thankful for people who are kind, patient, and truly loving. Remind us of the powerful gift of hospitality, whether or not it shows up as our dominant gifting. Please send people like Aquila, Priscilla, Titius, and Crispus to encourage us to do the ministry you have given each of us. All for the building up of the body of Christ, for making disciples that make disciples.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

2 Replies to “Acts: On Being Discouraged”

  1. This is such a great perspective on these passages. I’ve truly seen over the last year or more, literally the darkest (but most fruitful) days of my life, how God brought people into my life (you, Zoë, Tom, Greg, Beth, Ben, Danja, Nathan, Hannah W, Hannah B -the list could go on and on) to keep me from losing heart. Boy, was I so close to the edge in multiple occasions! I’m so grateful for God’s care and compassion!

  2. It is continuously amazing to see how consistent God is in bringing together like-hearted people in every place Paul travels that encourage each other and work together for the furtherment of the gospel. God’s timing in each is impeccable as always. We can strengthen ourselves in the Lord, but more often we need each other to be encouraged and strengthened. Makes you look around and say, “who can i encourage today?” You never know how meaningful or important that may be in that person’s life. Or, what the eternal consequences may be.

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