Can I Offer Some Encouragement?
“Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.”
—John C. Maxwell
A gentleman opened his door on a Monday morning to get his copy of the newspaper. He was surprised to find a strange little dog sitting on the front porch with the newspaper in its mouth. Delighted with the unexpected delivery service, the man rewarded the dog with some treats, and attention. “You’re a good dog!” he praised.
The next morning the man was shocked to find the same dog sitting on his porch, tail wagging—and this time surrounded by eight newspapers!
A little encouragement sure does go a long way.
A young Jewish man by the name of Joseph in the Bible knew this. He was such an encouragement to others, people started to call him Barnabas, which meant “Son of Encouragement.”
If you want to learn how to encourage others, who better to consider as an example than a man named Encouragement?
Barnabas encouraged others by practicing stewardship: “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:36-37). He saw a need and gave of his possessions to meet it. Giving encourages everyone.
He encouraged others by extending friendship: “When [Saul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9:26-27). He encouraged Saul by extending him love and friendship when no one else would.
He encouraged others by being a bridge builder: “News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts” (Acts 11:22-23). He was an emissary and brought encouragement from the church at Jerusalem to the church at Antioch.
He encouraged others by making introductions: “Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:25-26). He encouraged the believers in Antioch by recognizing that Paul’s skills were a great match for their needs, and bringing him to them.
Consider this doxology from the apostle Paul: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in all our troubles, so that we can encourage those in any trouble with the encouragement we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Whom have I encouraged lately?
My prayer this week—Father, will you move my heart to encourage others as you’ve encouraged me? Will you open my eyes to those around me in need of encouragement? Whether through giving, extending friendship, building bridges, or making introductions—will you give me the courage to act?