Monday, November 9th, 2009
"They encouraged them." (Acts 16:40)
We look out for the interests of others by encouraging them. (Romans 1:11, 12) Paul’s coworker Silas was a source of encouragement. After the circumcision issue was decided about 49 C.E., the governing body in Jerusalem sent out emissaries to carry a letter to believers elsewhere. Silas, Judas, Barnabas, and Paul took it to Antioch. There Silas and Judas “encouraged the brothers with many a discourse and strengthened them.” (Acts 15:32) Later, Paul and Silas were jailed at Philippi, but as the result of an earthquake, it was possible for them to give a witness and see the jailer and his household become believers. Before leaving that city, Silas and Paul encouraged the brothers. Like Paul and Silas, seek to encourage others by your comments, talks, and zealous field service. And when you have a “word of encouragement,” by all means, “tell it.”—Acts 13:15. (Watchtower issue: 02/15/08, 2:20, 21)
*The case of Paul and Silas giving a witness and encouraging the jailer and his family in Philippi, was an outstanding example of putting the needs of others ahead of themselves. Earlier that day Paul & Silas had been attacked by a mob in the marketplace and beaten...
"And the crowd rose up together against them; and the civil magistrates, after tearing the outer garments off them, gave the command to beat them with rods. After they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison...and made their feet fast in the stocks." (Acts 16:22-24)
Most people in that circumstance would have been completely exhausted and in far too much pain to be worrying about the welfare of someone else...least of all the welfare of their jailer! But they not only helped the jailer spiritually, they even prevented him from killing himself. The account goes on to say:
"But about the middle of the night Paul and Silas were praying and praising God with song; yes, the prisoners were hearing them. Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations of the jail were shaken. Moreover, all the doors were instantly opened, and the bonds of all were loosened. The jailer, being awakened out of sleep and seeing the prison doors were open, drew his sword and was about to do away with himself, imagining that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out with a loud voice, saying: “Do not hurt yourself, for we are all here!” So he asked for lights and leaped in and, seized with trembling, he fell down before Paul and Silas. And he brought them outside and said: “Sirs, what must I do to get saved?” They said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of Jehovah to him together with all those in his house. And he took them along in that hour of the night and bathed their stripes; and, one and all, he and his were baptized without delay. And he brought them into his house and set a table before them, and he rejoiced greatly with all his household now that he had believed God."
Imagine if Paul & Silas had only been thinking about their own problems and hadn't reached out to encourage that jailer. They would have missed out on the opportunity of helping him and his whole household to become believers. Good lesson.