All the churches of Christ greet you.
–Romans 16:16

When the Duke of Wellington, the military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was nearing the end of his life, a friend asked him, “If you had your life to live over again, what would you do differently?” This great military leader said, “I would give more praise to other people.” Isn’t that interesting? A military leader who understood the importance of rank and position said the best way to motivate soldiers in battle is not by pulling rank on them; it is by offering sincere praise.

What is true in the military is also true in the workplace. If you supervise other people, then you know the way to best motivate them is not through threats and coercion; it is through praise and encouragement. And it is also true in the home. If you want to motivate your children, the best way is not by beating them down and criticizing them; it is by offering praise.

This principle is true in the Church as well. Far too many Christians are bruised and battered by the world during the week. Then they come to church, and if they do not get beaten up by the pastor or staff, they get beaten up by other Christians who criticize them for the way they dress, for the beliefs they hold, or for not conforming to some superficial standard of behavior. But the Church ought to be a harbor for people. It ought to be the safest place in the world. It ought to be the place where we come to be encouraged, not beaten down.

The Apostle Paul understood the power of encouragement. This week, we will discover that Paul not only instructed us about encouraging one another, but he also illustrated how to do it. In Romans 16, we see the power of a positive word. In this final section of Romans, Paul was telling the believers in Rome about his travel plans, and then he gave personal greetings to 24 individuals. Now, it would be easy to skip over this passage. After all, it is filled with strange names we are not familiar with. But if we skipped over this list, then we would miss an important message about the heart of the Apostle Paul.

Paul had a clear calling in life to take the gospel where it had never been. He was a task-oriented person in accomplishing that purpose. But he was also a people-oriented person. In this passage, he mentioned 24 people, and he gave a personal word to each one of them.

How did Paul know these people and how to pray for them? There was no texting, no emailing in Paul’s day. He could not check their Facebook pages and see what was going on in their lives. I think Paul knew about these people because they were on his prayer list. These were people he had been corresponding with, and he was praying for them regularly. And Paul cared about them as well.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power Of A Positive Word” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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