Encouragement, Enlightenment and Empowerment
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:3-6, NIV
As a missionary, the Apostle Paul knows the challenges when it comes to starting a new church. Along with the many obstacles and distractions, he is contending primarily with people who are new to the faith. He knows the importance of discipleship and, though he is not with each church all the time, he knows the value of maintaining his connection. He does this extremely well through his written letters.

Often, when leaving a community, he provides them with a trusted confidant who continues to build upon the laid foundation. Not only are people like Timothy, Epaphroditus and Titus capable leaders but they also find it important to keep Paul informed of not only the congregation’s status but also their personal growth.

Paul is invested in the relationships established and his greatest desire is that they (1) know God, and (2) that they remain in community with one another. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he exemplifies the way a community of faith should be structured.

Paul’s letters are a way for him to stay connected. His protégés keep him updated on the state of each church and, from this information, he addresses the things that he believes they need the most. For Paul, encouragement, enlightenment and empowerment are the overarching themes. 

By encouraging, in essence, Paul desires to build up his people by giving them words of affirmation. In a world filled with loud noises and competing voices, he knows the power of offering hope. Along with encouragement he also knows his role as their primary teacher. Throughout his letters, we see specific instructions for each congregation on how they can maintain their faith while also forging stronger bonds with one another. And finally, through the power of the Holy Spirit, his final goal is to empower those he’s entrusted with the faith to not only live out their beliefs but, most importantly, to share what they believe with others. Paul knows that the world has nothing to offer that compares with the glorious truth of God’s grace and love.

The three themes Paul outlines in his letters are the same things we need in our daily lives. In true Christian form, we can see how active encouragement begets encouragement, enlightenment begets enlightenment and empowerment begets empowerment. Paul knows that Jesus was the model of this framework. What Jesus received from His father (encouragement, enlightenment and empowerment) are the gifts He gives to us today.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Philemon 1:25, NIV
The Rev. Martin J. Bastian
If you know someone who would like to receive our daily devotions,
please forward your copy to a friend .
To reply to this devotional, please email
the Rev. Marty Bastian at lgallien@stmartinsepiscopal.org.