Encouraging the Discouraged (Proverbs 25:11)
The person who sets out to be an encourager will never find a shortage of people to help. The word encourage means to put courage into another. Now more than ever, people are more discouraged due to the pressures in life. One of the overlooked needs that people have is to be encouraged. Often it is easier for us to read the physical needs of people rather than their emotional needs. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Proverbs 25:11). The right word spoken at the right time can make all the difference to someone whose world is crashing. William Arthur Ward said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”
You Can Encourage Others by Extending Friendship-
In Acts 9 we read of Saul who had been an enemy of the early Church—even having some Christians killed. He became a believer, but the Church was still hesitant of receiving him into fellowship. Acts 9:26-27 says, “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas encouraged Saul by extending love and friendship to him. He befriended this new believer.
I am constantly reminded of how much new Christians need encouragement in their spiritual journey. People grow the best when an attitude and an atmosphere of acceptance is present. We need the influence of others in our lives if we are going to grow spiritually. Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” You have found a good friend if they are sharpening you in your spiritual development.
The one Bible character who personified this was Barnabas. Barnabas was such an encouragement that the apostles changed his name from Joses to Barnabas—which means, “Son of encouragement.” In the New Testament, the word most often translated “encouragement” is the word paraklesis. It comes from two Greek words: para, “alongside of,” and kaleo, “to call.” So the word encourager means “someone who is called to come alongside of you to help renew and comfort you.” Think about it. What is one of the Greek words for the Holy Spirit? Parakletos—which is very similar to the word for encouragement; paraklesis. When a Christian is yielded to the Holy Spirit; then he can be a source of encouragement to others.
Barnabas was a man greatly used by the Lord to reach many people for Christ. Acts 11:24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” Barnabas was mightily used to reach and disciple new believers for the Lord. Barnabas was known for encouraging Saul. In so doing, God used Saul (Paul) in an unbelievable way to impact the world for God.
You Can Encourage Others by Re-Building Relationships-
In Acts 15:36-41. Earlier in their ministry, Paul and Barnabas had taken a young John Mark with them on their first missionary journey. Somewhere along the way, Mark left the team and went home. Later, when they wanted to retrace their steps. Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them, but Paul refused. Barnabas took Mark one way, and Paul took Silas another. Barnabas sought to mend the broken relationship.
Later, in II Timothy 4:11, Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. Paul asks for Mark to come to him. Paul’s relationship with Mark was restored and their ministries continued in part because Barnabas refused to let go of a good man just because he failed.
Barnabas was an encourager, and we too are called to be encouragers. In II Corinthians 1:3, the Bible calls God the God of all comfort, or encouragement. So for us to encourage others is to be like God. We need more believers like Barnabas. For the glory of God, will you say, “God, make me an encourager?”
Questions to Consider:
Today, who can I come alongside and serve or encourage? What is stopping me?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Spirit inside me that urges me to “supply what is lacking” in the lives of others. How gracious that You choose to use me to help someone You love. Help me to always see that encouraging others as the privilege it is rather than a burden. In Jesus name, Amen.
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