I’m firmly convinced these words of Jesus are true, recorded only by Luke in Acts 20:35 as Paul shares some very emotional moments with the elders of the church at Ephesus: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
I believe that is certainly true of offering encouragement. We are blessed who encourage others, just as those who receive our encouragement are blessed. There is always someone that is better off than I am today, and there is always someone who is having a tougher time than I am today. The value of a word of encouragement cannot be overstated, especially when that encouragement is needed even more than we might know.
In a recent article in the Winston-Salem Journal Nigel Alston told the story of an episode in the life of Sherman Rogers. While working at a logging camp during his college years, Rogers was left in charge for a few days and was given the authority to fire anyone who refused to follow his orders. His superintendent realized he would consider firing Tony, an immigrant worker who grumbled and growled all day and pretty much just gave everyone a hard time. He told him to reconsider, saying that Tony was the most reliable worker he had ever had, is the first to arrive and last to leave each day, and is careful and accident free.
Instead of firing him the first day, Rogers went to Tony and told him what the superintendent had said. Alston writes, “When he finished, Tony dropped the shovelful of sand he had held and tears streamed down his face. He wanted to know why he wasn’t told that eight years ago. That day Tony worked harder than ever before — and he smiled! He later said to Rogers that he told his wife Rogers was the first foreman in America who ever said ‘Good work, Tony,’ and it made his wife feel like Christmas. Years later Tony would become a superintendent himself for one of the largest logging companies in the West, and said that little chat changed his whole life.
To me the most poignant—and sad—statement is the question, “Why wasn’t I told that eight years ago?
Perhaps you have noticed something positive about someone. Have you told them?
Who can you encourage today? Encouragement is a blessing to the giver and the receiver. I mentioned in the sermon last week that it’s not too late for a resolution: to deliberately encourage someone every single day. They need it. And so do you.