“Be of Good Cheer”
There is little doubt that if Paul were with us today he would bid us “be of good cheer.” His ministry would be one of great encouragement.
Such were his words when the ship in which he was sailing to Rome had been caught in a storm, and when all hope of safety had been taken from the bosoms of his fellow-travellers. He bade them “be of good cheer.”
He might have appeared a mere mocker to many of them at such a time, but the fact was that an angel of God had informed him that God had given to him all them who sailed with him. So long therefore as they were with Paul they were safe and in their right and proper place.
Personally he believed God that it should be even as it was told him. He was calm regarding the issue; and, in the power of this assurance, he sought to tranquillize the fears of others. Faith in the word of God to him was of supreme moment then, as it is now, and ever. To bring God into a difficulty is practically to remove it; nor shall any of us be the least help to our fellow-pilgrims unless we are in the power of confidence in God.
Now Paul had to do with “the God of all encouragement;” he could therefore encourage the cast-down and despairing; and thus his ministry to such was full of good cheer and comfort.
True, he saw fit to administer the rebuke, “Ye should have hearkened unto me,” for they had not followed his wise counsel and had accordingly suffered loss. They had themselves to blame for their inattention, and had their own burden to bear in consequence.
None the less he exhorted them to “be of good cheer.” The end would be reached, even though the way to it must be bitterly trying, and, in fact, they all got to land, though in a manner deeply humbling to themselves. Now it is very clear that Paul’s counsel was their duty and the rejection of it was their disaster. So today; assuming Paul to be, par excellence, the minister of the church, to attend to his God-given instructions, as given in his Epistles, were the church’s wisdom at all times; but it must be said to our shame, that they have been disregarded, with the patent result of division and disaster among the ranks of Christ’s beloved people on all hands.
We have chosen our own ways in preference to God’s, and are, alas! so far as what is outward is concerned, a spectacle of disunion and worldliness and self-will.
Oh! how we may humble ourselves before the Lord on this account! But is there no remedy? Surely, if only we will take it.
Let us hearken unto Paul—unto God and the word of His grace (Acts 20:32). If only we did that, then, of necessity, we should be of the same mind in the Lord. If only each of us—you, my reader, and myself—sought grace to obey the God-inspired words of the Apostle, we should certainly draw more closely together, and thus undo, so far, the disasters of the day. As we draw to the Centre—Christ Himself—we shall converge to one another. Our own will and position will become less, and Christ shall be the chief attraction; and if our hearts are saturated by the ministry of the great church-apostle, specially that of his closing Epistles, we shall not fail to become its resultants. We shall be in the place and condition of those who cordially seek the will and glory of Christ. “The only thing for the Christian is the word of God and the coming of the Lord,” was the answer of an aged servant of Christ to the question “What is the future of the church here?” Thirty years have since elapsed. The chaos and darkness has deepened, but the truth of that answer remains. Withal, though we have to reap now a bitter harvest, we may “be of good cheer,” for He who loves us will come for us, and thus crown all His grace toward us.