Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 16: Son of Encouragement

     In the New Testament, we meet a companion of Paul who had the gift of encouragement.  His parents had named him Joseph, which means "one who increases."  The early church leaders, however, changed his name to Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement."  Barnabas was a person who others felt good being around.  He was a man who believed in the potential of a person, particularly those who mothers whom others (that's an appropriate typo) might be cautious or suspicious of.
     It was Barnabas who encouraged the disciples to give Paul a chance to demonstrate the depth of his conversion from a stoner of the believers to a missionary for Jesus.  When Paul did not want to take John Mark with him, because John Mark had left them during a missionary trip, Barnabas stepped in and insisted on allowing John Mark to come with them.
     Here is what it says about Barnabas in the book of Acts.
     When Barnabas arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encoraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.  He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.   ~Acts 11:23-24
     That was Barnabas reputation.  This was how people talked about him behind his back.  Barnabas spent his life building and edifying others.  He showed them how much he cared for them through his words and his actions.  He knew that the best thing to do behind a person's back was to pat it, not to criticize.
     Discouraged people do not need critics.  They hurt enough already.  The Bible says, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire," 1 Thes. 5:19.
     People who are discouraged need a refuge not someone to remind them of the obstacles.  An encourager fills that need and provides a place to hide and heal.  Encouragement has the capacity to lift spirits, place a smile on a discouraged face, or change the direction that someone is headed - not just for the moment, not just for the day, but for as long as life itself.
     Think about the people God has placed into your life.  Who are the people that you can encourage?
     And it will be said"  Build up, build up, prepare the road!  Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.  For this is what the high and lofty One says--he who lives forever, whose name is holy:  "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.   ~Isaiah 57:14-15
     Use your words today to build others up.
     This post is Day 16 in the 31 Day Series: Welcome to My Mess.  You can read the other posts here.
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