“Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
— Proverbs 11:25
In the past two years, the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted nearly every person in the world. However, there is another disease that could be the most dangerous known to man. Experts say it has the potential to wreak havoc on 100% of the world’s population. Everyone is vulnerable to it because we’re all exposed to those who carry it. This disease is called VDP Disease. Are you familiar with it? I bet you are.
VDP Disease stands for “Very Draining Person” Disease, and it is carried and transmitted by people around the world. We have all experienced and felt the devastating effects of being around someone with VDP. You can identify VDP by how someone exhibits repetitive negative, pessimistic, complaining and life-sucking behaviors. People with the disease are highly contagious; once you’ve been exposed, you may not realize it, but you may also begin to carry VDP. You typically won’t see the symptoms in yourself. It’s hard to see VDP Disease in the mirror, but others can spot it from a mile away.
You’ve probably heard the expression “misery loves company.” VDPs love to pull you down to their level of misery. It makes them feel better about themselves. They criticize, complain, whine, make excuses and find faults. Their words are laced with destruction, and they spew verbal poison on anyone who dares to listen. Those infected with VDP Disease can be found everywhere—in neighborhoods, schools, sports fields, businesses, churches, ministries and families. If you spot someone with VDP, run! If you don’t, he or she may drain you of the positive energy you need for life.
Here’s the good news: There is one known cure for VDP Disease. It’s called VRP, or “Very Refreshing People.” Large numbers of faith-filled, positive, right-living, energized VRPs are needed to combat the devastating effects of people with VDP. VRPs are more difficult to find, but every once in a while, you can spot one. They bring healing and relief. When VRPs are around, you feel like a million bucks. They speak words of life into the ordinary and transform it. They refill your energy tank—emotionally, relationally and spiritually. They breathe encouragement, blessing and hope into your soul and remind you that nothing is impossible with God.
In FCA, we have world-class VRPs who make me feel like I have a red cape on my back and a big “S” on my chest. They make me feel like Superman because they speak words of life to me—words drenched in hope. Whether it is staff, donors, volunteers or board members, they are always speaking truth into my life. Just this week, one of our board members sent me a text that said, “You are an amazing leader and man of God!” His words weren’t just “make-you-feel-good words,” but they were “I-believe-in-you” words. What a difference. This VRP saw God’s greatness in me. They inspired me. Their encouragement wasn’t fake or artificial; it was powerful, purpose-filled edification. FCA is filled with VRPs!
When you are refreshing, you are a blessing.
In the Bible, Onesiphorus was a VRP. He brought hope and healing. He’s only mentioned twice, both times in 2 Timothy. Obviously, he’s not a popular Bible character, but he was well-known to the apostle Paul because of the encouragement he delivered. In fact, his name actually means “to bring help or profit-bearing.”
May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.
— 2 Timothy 1:16-17 (HCSB)
Everybody needs a VRP, and Onesiphorus was one of Paul’s main VRPs. Paul was beaten down by VDPs, and some were his closest friends. When Paul took a stand for the truth, an attack always came. But God provided him with VRPs to keep going.
From Onesiphorus’ example, we learn three key characteristics of a VRP:
1. Refreshment is repeated.
Paul writes, “he often refreshed me.” This was not a one-and-done refreshing; Onesiphorus poured out encouragement time and time again. The word refreshed means “to brace up or revive by fresh air.” When Onesiphorus arrived at the jail, Paul probably pumped his hands into the air and rejoiced, saying, “Yes! Thank God. He is here again.” Refreshing needs to be regular and repeated.
2. Refreshment is risky.
Paul says Onesiphorus “was not ashamed of my chains.” He was willing to associate himself with Paul’s sufferings. During one of Paul’s darkest hours in a Roman prison, Onesiphorus showed up. As a former slave, Onesiphorus risked his life by going into prison to refresh his brother in Christ. We need to step out of our comfort zones to refresh others.
3. Refreshment is relentless.
The biblical text says Onesiphorus searched hard for Paul. He was relentless in finding his friend, and he did not stop until he found him. Onesiphorus did whatever it took. VRPs are persistent and tenacious.
So, are you a VRP, or do you carry VDP Disease? The challenge is not whether you have VRPs in your life, but asking yourself if you are one, and if you aren’t, making changes to become one. When you walk into a room, do people run or do they pump their fists into the air? Do you bring life to people? To your spouse? To your children? To the people you lead?
As a VRP, your words can unlock God’s greatness in others. You need to be committed to infusing life into people through your intentional words of nourishment. Let them feast off your encouragement. Become a VRP, because when you are refreshing, you are a blessing.
Father, there is fresh power at the foot of the cross. I want to be refreshed by You and used to pour out Your goodness to others. I want to be a refresher. Help me to be a Very Refreshing Person every day. Too often I get focused on myself and do not see the opportunities to bless others with words and actions. Show me how I need to minister to those with whom I interact. Thank You for loving me and refreshing me all the time.
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