Acts 27: 33-37
Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. ‘For the last fourteen days,’ he said, ‘you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.’ After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board.
Isn’t it incredible just how things have changed during the storm? At the start, Paul was a nobody and his advice was completely ignored. He had no power, status or authority. Now look - he’s the leader on the boat, he’s telling them all what they should do, and they’re following his instructions.
Storms have a tendency to level status. When you go through a storm, titles or positions don’t mean so much anymore. What matters most in a crisis is leadership, courage and confidence.
Unlike everyone else, Paul’s hope isn’t in the boat, it’s in his God, and so even if the boat sinks, he’s not going down with it. His foundation is in God’s Word, not in the circumstances or conditions around him. That enables him to step up and boldly lead everyone else through the storm.
Look at what we’ve already read before:
“…I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost…”
“…keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God…”
The word ENCOURAGE literally comes from two words – IN and COURAGE. It is infusing courage into others. It means inspire with hope, determination or confidence.
Research has shown that the 6 most encouraging phrases we like to hear are:
- I love you.
- Dinner is served.
- All is forgiven.
- Keep the change.
- You’ve lost weight.
- I believe in you.
Paul here speaks powerful words of encouragement. But he does more than that. He models what he wants to see in everyone else.
Look again at verses 34-36:
“Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.’ After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.”
They haven’t eaten in 2 weeks. Paul says: ‘take some food, you need it.’ He cares about their physical well-being. Someone once said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
It seems like they’re reluctant to take his advice. And so he goes first. He takes some bread, thanks God in front of them all, and eats it.
Look at what it says: “They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.”
They were encouraged. They follow his example. His actions back up his words and they find courage and hope.
In a world where there is a real lack of hope, Christians should be people who speak words of encouragement. Who speak blessing and courage into others. Who model goodness and lead others into life.
William Arthur Ward wrote this:
“Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”
Look out for people to intentionally encourage today. It might be just what they need, plus you’ll be blessed in the process as you lift others up.