You Make Me Better
After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Acts 18:23
A few days ago, I worked out by myself, which was unusual as I normally go to the gym at a specific time when I know my friends will be there. Alone, without a plan or anyone to push me, I just sat on my exercise bike and slowly spun the pedals for a while, reading. It wasn’t much of a workout. As it turns out, I need my buddies. When they’re around, I’m encouraged to work harder and to be better. Alone, I was apathetic and lazy. My brothers make me a better person.
Paul lived out this principle. In today’s passage, we’re told how he traveled from place to place, visiting the church, teaching, encouraging, and strengthening all the disciples. Paul knew the influence he could have on others and he used it to make them better.
We may not like to admit it, but we need each other. This is part of why we meet together once a week for church and why addicts meet regularly in recovery meetings. We need the consistent encouragement and motivation that occurs when we fellowship with others who desire to go in the same direction that we do. We are better together than we are alone.
The challenge for me, is to ask myself if I’m living out this principle. Am I regularly meeting with those who strengthen me? Am I being the kind of person who strengthens others? This influence can easily work the wrong way too. If, instead of going to a recovery meeting, I meet some friends at the bar, they’ll drag me down. If, instead of encouraging my brothers to pursue faith and recovery, I entice them with self-destructive behavior, I become an evil influence. With whom do I choose to spend my time? What kind of influence are we having on each other? At the end of my life, I’d like it to be said that I made those around me better.
Whether we like it or not, our friends have a significant influence on us, just as we do on them. Regularly then, we must spend time with those who push us on to faith and recovery. In turn, we must choose to do the same for them.