Encouraging others is a vital ministry. But Paul’s letter to the Philippians illustrates that it can also be costly.

Even though he was sitting in prison and benefiting from Timothy’s fellowship, Paul planned to send him to minister to the Philippians and learn how they were doing. He chose Timothy because all others focused on themselves rather than on Christ (2:21). A good report from him would encourage Paul (v.19).

Epaphroditus was also a man who practiced selfless encouragement. He was a representative from the Philippian church. While visiting and helping Paul he had become sick and nearly died. His greatest concern was not over his own critical illness, but that his home church had heard about it and he didn’t want them to be unduly distressed (v.26).

We see in Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus the secret of true encouragement—self-giving without self-pity. It is clearly self-forgetfulness.

Do you want to be an encouraging Christian? Remember, the ultimate source of encouragement is not people but God. Go to Him for fresh encouragement— then go out and encourage others.