After people have been with you, are they encouraged to do more for God or are they put down, depressed and confused?
Be A Barnabas!
His name was Joses, but the apostles renamed him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, he encouraged all the new believers in Antioch to continue with the Lord (Acts 11:23-24). In plain English, we are most in need of this special gift of Barnabas in our churches today. We need encouragement for new adventures in missions and ministries, encouragement to stand out for Christ and to finish the good fight of faith.
How many of us can say we are victorious Christians? We all need encouragement. You know how it feels when a friend says just what you need to hear during your hard times, or when you are at a crossroad and a fellow believer encourages you to go in God’s direction. His word helps you strengthen your grip because it is a “word spoken in due season” and “a word fitly spoken” (Prov. 15:23; 25:11).
Second Corinthians 5:18 tells us that “God … has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” But it is a pity that we so often practice just the opposite, the ministry of condemnation, by discouraging our brothers who are wounded in the battle, or bruised in their spirit. Perhaps we make an excuse by saying that if God wanted another Barnabas he would have created him. But note, Joses was his original name. So whatever your name, you can still become a Barnabas and be a part of this ministry.
The Lord used Barnabas in the early development of the Church, when he introduced Paul to the apostles and convinced them of his genuine conversion (Acts 9:27). He was a representative of the apostles to the church at Antioch (Acts 11:22-24). He and Paul were sent by the Spirit on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2). He encouraged a young disciple named John Mark, who dropped out of the first trip, to join them in their second. And even though Paul, considering him a failure, refused to take him (Acts 15:38), Mark was able to help Paul at the end of his career (2 Tim. 4:11) – and even wrote one of the gospels. No doubt, his spiritual development resulted from Barnabas’ encouragement. Strange as it may seem, there is no book of Barnabas in the Bible. He encouraged others to ascertain their gifts and determine where those gifts and talents might best be put to use. His encouragement affected many lives.
Are we motivating, supporting and uplifting others in their gifts and talents? We have power to ignite the fire of encouragement in others or to douse it with pessimism. After people have been with you, are they encouraged to do more for God or are they put down, depressed and confused? Also be careful never to encourage others in the wrong direction. It is said of the wicked, that “they encouraged each other in evil plans” (Ps. 64:5). Let your encouragement always be toward right and productive Christian living.
Encouragement can come in words of appreciation and prayers for the needs of others. It can also be expressed by visiting the sick, the elderly, the despondent, prisoners, orphans, and many other secluded people. We can also be an encouragement by giving our time, talents and substance to meet the needs of others. In fact, any gift or talent that God has given us can be used to enhance the ministry of encouragement.
God is our utmost encourager through the Holy Spirit, and He has also given us the encouraging ministry of reconciliation. We can tap into the healing balm of His love to reconcile people back to God and heal their wounds through encouragement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lapinni Akinyemi, a student at the University of Jos, Nigeria, is active in prison ministry and is president of one of the university’s Christian student fellowships. This article was born out of his involvement with inmates who desperately need hope and encouragement.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.