A New Year Suggestion
Be a Barnabas!!!
Recently, while doing some reading, I was reminded of an old story about a preacher leaving a church. At his farewell dinner he tried to encourage one of his members that looked very sad and said, “Don’t be so sad, the next preacher might be better than me.” She replied, “That’s what they said before you came, but it just keeps getting worse!!!” Boy, that was an encouraging thing to hear wasn’t it?!!! Lesson here? Listen, we all need encouragement. Life can really be challenging at times, and it’s a blessing when the Lord can use someone to lift us up! Amen? Horace Wimpey shared these following thoughts about someone who was always encouraging others. On June 18, 1956 a freak accident happened on a lake in New York. A speedboat bounced on a wave and hurled into the water two of its passengers, a man 50 years old, and a little girl. To keep her from drowning, the man held her head above the water while the boat circled back. They rescued the girl, but the man sank and drowned. And this is how
Dawson Trotman died, the founder of the Navigators an international discipleship ministry and their headquarters is still located here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. According to a quote in Time magazine it said, “He lived to save others. His death was just the way he would have planned it, and in his obituary someone wrote that he died just the way he lived, “always lifting someone up.” What a legacy. To be known as someone who always lifted others up. Listen, one good word of encouragement can inspire and help others. There was a study done using children and the effects that encouragement has on them. Psychologists would use either encouraging words and gestures, or discouraging words and gestures. What the study showed was when children were encouraged, their physical energy would increase! But when discouraging words and gestures were used, the energy level would drop immediately! Although this study was done using children, I’m sure that they would get the same result in adults as well. Listen, we all need and like to receive encouragement, don’t we? And when we receive it, it makes us feel that others really do care about us!
Let’s take a brief look at one of the great encouragers in the Bible and his name is Barnabas. Acts 4:36 says, “there was a man named Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas which means ‘Son of encouragement.’ (V.37) tells us that he sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles. Names had a meaning back in Jesus’ day and, again, this new name “ Barnabas” meant “Son of encouragement.” Throughout the New Testament we find that everywhere he went, Barnabas was an encourager. We don’t have the space here to note the following scriptures, but in Acts 11:22-24; 15:36-40; we see that everywhere Barnabas is present, it’s absolutely clear that encouragement was going on! PTL! The Greek word we translate encourage from is parakaleo which means “to call to one’s side, to comfort, to console, to strengthen.” So, when we encourage each other, we walk beside them, to support and strengthen them. To build up someone up, not to tear them down. So, just how can we become encouragers? Here’s a few brief examples.
- Encouragement Must Be Spoken.
Listen, it really doesn’t do any good to think good thoughts about a person, we need to communicate with people in order to encourage them. We need to learn to speak words that encourage each other. Acts 13:15 says, that Apostle Paul and Barnabas had just arrived in Antioch and had gone to the synagogue on the Sabbath for worship. What would happen at these services was the reading of part of what we call the Old Testament. After they did that, people would then stand and speak. Isn’t it amazing that they then looked at Barnabas and Paul and said, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it!” Then, (as well as now) they were looking for words of encouragement! Wouldn’t you agree that we too, all look for words of encouragement? Words that build up, that will help us in times of despair and trouble? Folks, encouragement must be spoken with words that comfort, uplift, and inspire. Amen? Secondly, not only should we encourage with our words but, also, with our actions.
- Encourage With Our Actions.
Have you ever heard the phrase that “Actions speak louder than words?” Well, in the context of encouragement, they go hand and hand with each other. We encourage people with both our actions and our words. See another example of Barnabas. Acts 9:26-27
“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe that he had truly become a believer! (v27) Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus at Damascus.” Before Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, he was called Saul and was known as a persecutor of Christians and they were afraid of him. But Barnabas stood up for him! Think of what might have happened if he hadn’t done so? Paul could have thought that these people don’t accept me, so maybe I don’t belong here. But Barnabas, through his actions, and words, encouraged and strengthened Paul in his faith. Lesson here? Barnabas’ actions matched his words, didn’t they? Folks, our actions need to match our words if we are to truly encourage others. People need a warm touch sometimes. Someone to wrap their arms around them, hold them, just comforting and encouraging. Thirdly, most of all, people need our prayers.
- Encouragement With Our Prayers.
Truly, it is an act of encouragement to tell others that we are praying for them, and then do it! I, truly, don’t where I would be today in my Christian walk without the intercessory prayers of others on my behalf. What a source of encouragement it has been to me to have someone call or write to me and tell me that they are praying for me! Lord knows that I do my best to pray for others as well. Don’t forget what in says in James 5:16 (NLT) that “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results!” I love that, don’t you? And, I believe in that, don’t you? Again, what an act of encouragement it is to let others know that you are, indeed, praying for them.
So, in closing let me make this very important New Year suggestion! I encourage you to be an encourager! Be a Barnabas!!! Encourage others with your words, actions, and prayers! In my lifetime, I have never seen a more toxic social climate that is so prevalent in our nation and world today! Have you? So much negativity and division that’s going on and it’s is so destructive. It’s no wonder why millions of folks are discouraged and despondent. I believe that our Lord wants all of us to do all that we can to lift each other up with the ministry of encouragement! God can/will use this ministry to bring people into a closer relationship with Him as a result. Folks, I want to be a Barnabas!!! How about you?
I love you all very, very much!