Engourage is defined as “to put courage into someone” and the greek word is paraklesis which means to come alongside. Encouragement makes it easier to love as Jesus loved (John 13: 34-35); encouragement gives us hope (Romans 15:4); and encouragement helps us through difficult times (Hebrews 12:5).
We are asked in the Bible, Gods ultimate words of encouragement, to encourage one another to remind one another that God loves us. (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Without encouragement we feel unloved and Satan has a better chance of getting us to believe the lie that God doesn’t love us. (Hebrews 3:13).
One of my favorite people to learn about in the Bible was named Barnabas. He was a true encourager- his name means “Son of Encouragement” and boy did he live up to his name.
Read: Acts 4:32-37. Here you’ll read how Barnabas had a giving heart. He sold his land without thinking to help someone else. He didn’t have the attitude of “mine mine mine” but he looked at his blessings and was willing to part with them to encourage others.
Read: Acts 9:26-27. Many Christians did not accept newly converted Saul, they doubted the change that had took hold of him (can you imagine, Christians doubting God’s ability to change lives?) Barnabas took hold of Saul and brought Paul and the church together. Be willing to think the best- be an encourager and not a doubter. Find the positives in your life, and help to show them in love to those around you.
Read: Acts 11: 19-23. More people believing, church hears and sends Barnabas- to encourage new believers in Christ! Not only did he encourage them in their new journey of faith, he rejoiced with them for trusting God to change their lives. Think of Barnabas going to Antioch to help new believers as the first real missions trip. Many “unclean Gentiles” became new, Antioch became the birthplace of the first multicultural church. What can you do to positively motivate others?
Read: Acts 11:24-26; Acts 13:1-3; 15:37-39. Barnabas gets Saul. Encouragement and relationship go hand in hand. Barnabas in a way trained Saul in motivation and encouragement to go into the mission field together. Saul followed Barnabas’ model. Together they influenced John Mark (2 Tim 4:11)- Barnabas’ effect on Saul transformed John Mark.
Lift each other up in prayer daily. Motivate each other to have a heart like Barnabas. And here’s I think the biggest challenge of all- be a Barnabas to yourself. Loving yourself is a heart issue. Take time to sit down with God and talk about it. Talk to your small group or accountability partner or whoever. Let’s get our hearts right with God, ourselves, and each other. Only then can the domino effect of having a heart like Barnabas truly begin.