And say to Archippus, "See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord."
(Colossians 4:17 – ESV)
(Colossians 4:17 – ESV)
Paul knew the trials, the ups and downs of being in ministry, and he consistently kept an eye out to exhort and encourage his ministry disciples and partners. You see this when you study 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, Ephesians 6:18, and in many other places. The idea of exhorting and encouraging one another in our walks and ministries fills the New Testament.
So who’s to say the words? The letter to the Colossians was to the whole church at Colossae, all the members, and all the members were to speak to Archippus, maybe not each one individually, but the sense is that anyone has the right. The church speaks to the leaders for encouragement as well as the leaders speak to the church. This is not about being presumptuous in telling others what they “should” be doing, but to encourage each other as to those things we all need to be doing. To encourage those already doing something specific to be able to fulfill it, and for those looking to do something particular to make sure they are looking to the Lord and encouraging them with your pledged support.
So we are to encourage not just in general but also specifically, to individuals. We all have a ministry of encouragement, and it is important, and it is commanded. The writer of this letter, the one and only Apostle Paul, even he needed encouragement. At the beginning of his ministry he was aided by a man named Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement (Acts 4:36). He helped Paul when no one else would, and the Bible says he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and faith (Acts 11:24), but he doesn’t get mentioned as much as some others we speak of. I’m sure that isn’t bothering Him in heaven right now.
Some scholars say he wrote Hebrews – think of that, one of the greatest books in the Bible, and perhaps the greatest one setting forth the supremacy of Christ. Barnabas may have written that and wasn’t even recognized for it. Whoever did write Hebrews is not recognized but what they did was and is still effective for God. You may not be like Paul or you may not be like Barnabas, you may not be the one who is recognized but you still have a ministry, and we all have an obligation to say to others to see to it, to be an encouragement to them.
Everyone has times when they need some encouragement, and sometimes we don’t know where it will come from. God has a way of sending someone around to say something that lifts us up when they don’t even know how or why it means so much to us, or even that their words meant anything special to us at all. Glory to God, it is a beautiful thing when that happens.
We should definitely develop an attitude of encouragement. However, having said that, let’s not be too hasty to try and be everyone’s encourager if that is not what we are called to do. Yes you will be called to be an encourager to someone and sometimes, but not everyone is always to speak to everyone about their issues. Hearing empty worn out words from someone we know doesn’t really understand or isn’t actually concerned is like putting salt on a wound. People like that just want to show off their supposed compassion and spirituality. See to it that this isn’t you.