Acts 11:23, “When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts”
Every born-again believer in Christ should be an encourager. In fact, this should be one of their distinguishing characteristics. But what does it mean to be an encourager! Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope, to spur on, stimulate, to give help or patronage to, or to foster, and Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad”. So, would you describe yourself as an encourager?
A good example of an encourager found in the pages of God’s Eternal Word is the disciple Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement.” He is overshadowed by the great apostle Paul, but he played an important part both in the life of the apostle and in the early church. Acts 4:36, 37 reveals that he was a generous man, willing to give his possessions to help other Christians.
It was Barnabas the encourager who befriended the new Christian, Saul of Tarsus, when he was still suspect by the apostles because of his reputation for persecuting the church (Acts 9:26, 27). He took a genuine interest in others who experienced the grace of God (Acts 11:22, 23). And even though he had been a Christian longer than Paul, Barnabas was willing to take a subordinate place (Acts 13).
My beloved, these are some of the qualities of an encourager: generosity in God’s work, willingness to befriend a stranger, gladness when God shows His grace to others, and a humility that is ready to let someone else have a more prominent role. Let’s learn from the life and example of Barnabas and be an encourager!
The apostle Paul said that when we edify others through our speech, we impart grace, or spiritual benefit, to their lives (Ephesians 4:29). So my brethren, let’s examine our speech habits for careless words, and then resolve to build up every person we meet, especially our children. Always remember, people need encouragers more than they need critics.
In Acts 28, as the apostle Paul was traveling to Rome, he met some fellow believers, and “when Paul saw them he thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15). What better compliment could be offered us than to have someone say, “Talking to you has encouraged me to continue on in my spiritual walk.” My brethren, the world is filled with so many troubled and discouraged souls who are struggling along in the Christian life. Battle weary, they are almost ready to give up.
They may be looking for a little encouragement from a Christian friend. A pleasant greeting, a verse from the Bible, or just a simple prayer can do wonders. Onesiphorus was a special friend to the apostle Paul because he showed special kindness. So, my brethren let’s follow his example and that of Barnabas, and encourage someone today!
Lord, when I learn that someone is hurting,
Help me know what to do and to say;
Speak to my heart and give me compassion,
Let Your great love flow through me today – K. De Haan
The human spirit soars with hope when lifted by an encouraging word.