Encouragers Needed

                One of my favorite biblical characters is Barnabas, and the reason I gravitate toward him is because of his shadowy, yet influential nature.The truth is we don’t know much about him except that he generously gave a large offering to the early church to help with the needs of the poor. We also know he was instrumental in introducing Paul to the disciples and helping establish Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. Perhaps the most telling insight about Barnabas, however, is found in his name, or his nickname, if you will. You see Barnabas’ real name was Joseph, but he was given the nickname of Barnabas by the disciples. The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” which probably implies that Barnabas was an implicit encourager. No doubt he taught Paul the importance of encouragement, because Paul encouraged others to be encouragers (cf. 1 Thess. 5.11).

                We all need encouragement on a regular basis. Mark Twain once said, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” Encouragement is, indeed, good for the soul. At the same time, somebody has to do the encouraging and that’s generally what sets the most faithful disciples apart. Two qualities are essential for giving good encouragement. First, be genuine! False encouragement is easy to spot and undermines our credibility. In Proverbs 26.28 Solomon said that “a flattering mouth works ruin.” Second, be specific! Specific compliments mean more because they say more.

                If you’re in need of some encouragement today, remember that God loves you just the way are. How’s that for a pick-me-up! If you see someone who looks like they need encouraging, take advantage of the moment and become a bona fide Barnabas to them. Think about what a wonderful world this would be if more of us built others up rather than tore them down with our words.