On Wednesday night on Spirit Radio we were talking about encouragement; how important it is and different ways we can encourage each others.
Our prime example in the Bible is Barnabas. His name means Son of Encouragement – and he really lived up to it. He was not just a chuck-on-the-shoulder kinda guy. He was practically (Acts 4:35-37) and spiritually (Acts 11:21-23) encouraging – he also was into giving a second chance to people who had messed up (Acts 15:36-40).
He was right hand man to Paul for a time. He wasn’t the dynamic up front leader that Paul was; but he had great wisdom and discernment. Made me wonder if that goes hand in hand with being an encourager. We can plamaus people til the cows come home. Praise people when they don’t deserve it, because we don’t know what to say. But I reckon it takes great wisdom to honestly encourage someone even if they have failed. Encouragement is probably more important and valuable in times of failure than in times of success.
So how can we be encouragers?
On a practical note, babysit for parents who need a night out. Maybe we can’t afford to pay for groceries for someone, but we could go get them. Some cleaning maybe? Or collecting kids from school.
Spiritually we can pray with or for people. We can share some Scripture verses, or maybe an encouragement we ourselves have received from a sermon or a chat with a friend.
The other thing I love about Barnabas’ example is how he insisted on giving John Mark a second chance. I think giving a second chance is one of the most powerful things we can do for someone. It’s what God has done for us – it might be the best form of encouragement we can give.
A few other points that came up…
Encouragement stops hardship from being meaningless
Encouragement makes it easier to live in a fallen world
Encouragement makes it easier to love
Encouragement gives hope
Encouragement nutures patience and kindness
And if you’re in need of encouragement…
God is in control
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28
When trials come that are out of our control, we can rest on this promise that if we are saved and love God, He will work all these things together for our good. It is just like a piece of embroidery which looks a mess on the back, but when you turn it over it is a beautiful work of art.
Don’t worry, pray
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6,7 We are commanded not to be anxious. To help us not to worry we should pray specifically about our problem with thanksgiving, and God will give us peace.
Don’t say “I can’t”
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
How often do we say, “I can’t cope” or when faced with something God wants us to, “I can’t”? In Christ, we can because He strengthens us, but we need to depend on Him and pray for His strength.
Don’t give up
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Gal 6:9
We should keep persevering at doing the right thing, because even if it seems like we’re not getting anywhere, in time we will bear fruit.
What to think about
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Phil 4:8
When we struggle bad thoughts, we need to figure out good things to meditate on instead.
A lost thought… we need to make sure that we’re not trite or smug – even if we don’t mean to be. If we’re on a hilltop, let’s make sure we do more than just describe the view. Let’s lift others up so they can see it for themselves 🙂