“Encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
His name was Joseph. But he “was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)” (Acts 4:36). Joe Encouragement. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be such an encouraging person that your friends simply call you Encouragement?
Courage is the resolve to face a fearful threat. And courage comes from hope — a hope in something stronger than what we fear.
Discouragement sets in when our hope is leaking out. It’s a sort of surrender to our fear. When this happens, and it happens often, what we need is an infusion of hope. That’s what encouragement is. Barnabas went around giving people hope-infusions, which helped them keep fighting the fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).
That’s the way I want to be, don’t you?
It’s not easy. It’s war. Encouragement is spiritual warfare. If you’re going to encourage anyone, you have to fight Satan and your own sin to do it.
The devil is constantly trying to discourage us. He’s the “the accuser of [the] brothers…who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10). And his minions are frequently throwing “flaming darts” of condemnation and jealousy and resentment at us (Ephesians 6:16). Resist them (1 Peter 5:9)!
And our sin nature wants to discourage others. It desires self-exaltation more than anything. So it relishes focusing on others’ weaknesses, foibles, mistakes and sins out of arrogance or envy. Pride is why so much of what we think or say or interpret or hear about others is negative and uncharitably critical.
But the “God of…encouragement” (Romans 15:5) has given us the weapon that is designed to defeat these enemies: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). The Bible was “written for our instruction, that…through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). And when we have hope, we will have courage.
So Barnabas people are those who soak in and store up God’s word (Psalm 119:11) and by doing so they are able to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). And when they talk they tend to only speak what “is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give grace to everyone who hears us today? Let’s set out to do it! Let’s be on the hunt for those who need hope-infusions. And let’s ask the Father for Spirit-empowered discernment and Scripture recall so that we leave whomever we interact with today more encouraged than we found them.
“Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Note: One of the best things I’ve ever read on encouraging others is Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree (who also happens to be one of DG’s board members). Time for me to read it again. Want to join me?
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