We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged. When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. (Acts 28:12-16, NIV)
Today we come to the final leg of Paul’s journey to Rome. When I think of the Great Apostle, he is in my imagination the picture of courage. But I can also imagine that even Paul was worried. As each day passed, as he drew nearer and nearer to his fate, I imagine he became more and more anxious with each passing mile.
That’s why this visit from some fellow Christians (“some brothers”) who heard of Paul’s plight is so significant – and why Luke thought to record it. Luke tells us that Paul was “encouraged” by them. The HCSB says he “took courage” from them. These men traveled for 100 miles to minister to Paul.
I sat down with a guy for coffee yesterday – he said he wanted to talk. On the surface, everything was fine. He is a guy that has his “act together.” But after a few minutes he began to reveal the anxieties, fears, and worries in his life. He simply needed some encouragement from a brother. So did Paul. We ALL do.
The funny thing is that Paul writes to others about encouraging one another 28 times in his letters. He told the church in Thessalonica: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV). But he wasn’t immune from needing it himself.
I’m praying God puts someone in your path this week who needs encouragement. I’m praying that you’ll go out of your way, like these men, to minister to someone this week. Keep your spiritual eyes open!