Friday, August 6, 2010

Giving and Receiving Encouragement

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 

Let’s come back to this topic of the ministry of encouragement.  Everyone can greatly benefit from receiving some encouragement.  In fact, it takes numerous positive statements to counteract the damage done by one thoughtless and negative remark.  The more encouraging words we receive the better.  However, in order to be encouraged we must be willing to give encouragement.  If we are critical of others, pessimistic in our outlook, and hateful towards those around us, then we will have a hard time receiving the encouragement others might try to offer.  A critical spirit acts as a force field that keeps us from reaping the benefit of the encouragement of others.  On the other hand, when we seek to be optimistic, kind, compassionate, and loving toward others, we will be empowered to benefit to the full potential the encouragement offered to us.  We will also be able to provide sincere encouragement to people as they go through the difficulties and trials of life.

Barnabas of the New Testament was a man with such an encouraging and compassionate spirit that he earned the nickname “Son of Encouragement.”  There are a lot worse names a guy could be called, right?  Consider that Barnabas did not earn this title overnight.  Rather, he demonstrated the characteristics of an encourager consistently over the long haul.  He could always be counted on to offer a kind remark, a positive viewpoint, and an encouraging word.  Such persons have the gift of ministering to us in our time of need.  Their words of hope, compassion and encouragement bring healing to our spirits like a soothing balm poured on an open wound. 

How about you?  Can you be counted on to offer encouragement?  Or do those near you hesitate to share their ideas and dreams with you for fear of having them shot down or ridiculed?  Encouragers who are Spirit-filled and walking with Christ will always be sensitive to the needs and struggles of those around them.  They are willing to listen, offer comfort, hope, prayer, kindness, and if needed a gentle rebuke whenever the situation calls for it.   

Troubled and hurting people are all around us.  As followers of Christ, let us be willing to stop and listen, and then offer encouraging words to persons in need.  Let’s lovingly point them to the One in whom they can trust: The Lord Jesus Christ.  In Jesus there is hope.  In Jesus there is encouragement. 

Encourage someone today in Jesus’ name.  

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