We’re back in Florida for three weeks visiting our kids and grandkids. And it’s hot. Really hot. Temperatures in the 90’s. Heat index over 100.
On days like these, an ice-cold glass of water and just a little breeze provides a needed respite and a refreshing break.
This morning in looking at today’s Bible reading, I am also reminded of the need for spiritual refreshment.
Now I urge you, brothers —you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men (1 Cor 16:15-18)
Three men. Stephanas. Fortunatus. And Achaicus. Unknown. Unheard of. And Unheralded. They’re not registered in the Heroes Fall of Fame in Hebrews 11. Yet, their names are recorded here, not because of some earth-shattering deed or miraculous work, but because of their ministry of encouragement. Paul says they “refreshed” his spirit. And also the Corinthian brethren.
When we speak of ministry, we often think of the preacher. Or the pastors. Maybe a program of the church. Something special. A point of emphasis to put on our web page. It may be a local outreach effort. Or an entree into foreign evangelism. And if often requires money to support such a ministry.
But the ministry of these three men was different. It didn’t require special funding. Or permission from the Shepherds. It was personal. Individual. And spiritually uplifting.
It is believed that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus during his third missionary journey. So these three men came to Ephesus and supplied something for Paul that was lacking. Something he needed. Something that encouraged him. Refreshed him. Renewed his strength. And rejuvenated his spirit.
Today we need more Christians to engage in the ministry of refreshing spirits.
When there are challenges in the church or trouble is brewing, it can be discouraging. There will always be weak members, lukewarm members, and even ungodly members. In times like these someone needs to step up and provide refreshment. Be an encourager in times of discouragement.
When our friends and brethren experience family problems, look for ways to be a refreshing Christian. An encouraging word and a kind deed may mean a lot and lighten the load a bit.
Health problems are something faced not only by the elderly but sometimes the young. A debilitating physical illness affects us emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. How refreshing it is when a brother or sister offers to help. Visits. Prays. Brings a meal. Or sends a thoughtful card.
While we know that the death of a Christian is precious in the Lord’s sight, it’s still difficult when we lose a spouse, a child or a parent. Friends and fellow Christians who come alongside of us, offering comfort and consolation is spiritually refreshing.
A refreshing ministry is never more needed than when sin invades our lives. Sin is a burden. It brings us down. It results in hurt and headache. What’s needed is a tender-hearted brother or sister to restore the erring. The work of restoration and reconciliation is indeed a refreshing ministry.
Finally, don’t forget your spiritual leaders. Preachers. Pastors. Deacons. And teachers. Their work is challenging. They can become weary. And, sometimes feel unappreciated. A small gift, a note of appreciation, a sincere word of thanks, or just a simple hug can be very refreshing.
Jesus said, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward (Mk 9:41). Either literally or figuratively, it’s a refreshing ministry.
Take the advice of 19th-century novelist Lydia Maria Child, “You find yourself refreshed by the presence of cheerful people. Why not make earnest effort to confer that pleasure on others?”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman