Let us encourage one another… (Hebrews. 10:25)
We have a calling to follow Christ in this fallen world, and with our own sinful natures. We have been scarred and pushed around. We have each been tempted and have failed the temptation many times. We follow Christ, who is a Perfect Lord, with imperfect habits and attitudes. The New Self is given to us, but the Old Self still exists.
What would we be without the encouragement of one another! We often disappoint ourselves in our daily walk. Encouragement is the grace gift to come alongside one another in the midst of discouraging and even disparaging circumstances, and not just to come alongside – though mere presence is also a special source of encouragement – but to help and lift up one another.
Barnabas was the epitome of an encourager. He is introduced to us in the Holy Scriptures with these words:
When news of this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to abide in the Lord with all their hearts. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:23-24)
Though the information about him in the scripture is brief, it paints a picture of someone who lived up to his name, which means “Son of Encouragement.” He saw the potential of Paul, who had been in the Christian family for more than ten years at that time, living in his hometown of Tarsus, but had not yet taken on any significant leadership. Barnabas, however, went to Tarsus, found Paul, and brought him back to Antioch as one of their teachers.
Encouragers see the potential in us that we cannot see ourselves. They not only lift us up, but they also often take concrete steps to get us involved in doing what we need to be doing. Patience and kindness are strong attributes of most encouragers. They are especially strong in being able to forgive others, and to promote the very idea of grace and forgiveness in the church family. They are backed up, as Barnabas was, by a strong prayer life, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the greatest encourager of all.
Pray that God would put someone on your heart today that you can encourage in their faith. Take concrete steps to do so – make a phone call, write a letter, pray for them. And, it would also be good to take time to say “Thank you” to those who have encouraged you.