1 Corinthians 16:17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.
Anyone who has competed in endurance races like 10k’s, marathons, triathlons and the like, probably understand the intense feeling of thirst. A short distance can seem like an eternity when you are becoming de-hydrated and, in contrast, the vision of a refreshment station and volunteers holding water is nothing short of a vision of beauty. Likewise, if you are in the middle of a very long workout on a football or soccer field on a hot July day with the sun burning down on you and sweat pouring out, you long for the coach to call you to the sidelines for a water break. When you finally consume that water, it tastes like the most refreshing drink on earth; in those times it is refreshment to the body and the soul.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of another type of refreshment, that being the spiritual refreshment that comes from others. The three men mentioned in 1 Corinthians 16:17 brought the questions of the Corinthian Christians to Paul. Stephanas was the head of the household and Fortunatus and Achaicus were apparently household servants. Details are not known of what they did for him, but we do know that what they together supplied to Paul “refreshed his spirit”.
I’m sure you can picture people in your life who drain you when you are together, but you can probably also picture people like Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus who are refreshers. They are people who deposit something in you and refresh your spirit. It is important for us all to understand the impact, either negative or positive, that we can have on others. While Paul recognized that his joy and his fulfilment always came from God (Colossians 2:2-3), he also spoke of the refreshment and encouragement that came from other people God used like the three mentioned above, but also Onesiphorus (2 Timothy 1: 16), Timothy (2 Timothy 1:4), Priscilla & Aquila (Romans 16:3-4) and Barnabas (meaning Son of Encouragement) who first accepted Paul when all the other disciples in Jerusalem were afraid of him (Acts 9: 26-27).
Are you someone who refreshes others? There is an impactful proverb that says: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed”. (Proverbs 11:25). Are you a generous person, someone who sacrifices your own best interests for the care of others? This proverb is another one of the dichotomies of the Bible. One would think that if you pour yourself out for others, you will be left thirsty with nothing left for anyone else, but God’s math works very differently. God ensures that those who pour themselves out to refresh others will themselves be refreshed. God demonstrated this over and over in his own life on earth and he demonstrates this in the lives of his saints. This does not always mean material reward, but it does mean a spiritual refilling, a spiritual refreshment from the true source of replenishment. Whoever drinks of the water that Jesus gives him, will never again be thirsty (John 4:14).
If you have refreshers in your life, take some time today to thank God for them and take the time to express to them how much it means to you when they reach out to refresh you. Then ask God that he fill you anew with his spirit, with his everlasting water, so that you too would have an overflow to become a refresher to those he has placed around you.