Some people are born encouragers. But the rest of us have to learn how to be encouraging to others. In the Bible, the word "encouragement" comes from a military term meaning "to strengthen, harden, or uplift." Encouragement means to meet people where they are and help them along to where they want to be or ought to be.
Usually we think of encouraging people who are "down." Friends who are experiencing some difficulty like financial pressures, interpersonal relationship problems, a mid-life crisis, or maybe family troubles. These kinds of problems are what the Apostle James called "divers temptations."
People need encouragement when they're going through tough times, but people also need encouragement when things are seemingly going very well. If you think not many people call or write when things are going poorly, just think how few call or write when everything appears to be on a roll.
The Book of Acts tells us about Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, who the apostles called "Barnabas," which means "Son of Encouragement." Later we read that Barnabas encouraged the Christians at Antioch, and he's described as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith" (Acts 11:24). Later still, when Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement, it's Barnabas who stands by the young Mark, who Paul thought spiritually weak but in whom Barnabas saw some good. Barnabas lived up to his name.
I’d like to develop my Barnabas-skills, and I’d encourage each of you to be a Barnabas. Give someone today what I call the "Barnabas Salute." That can be a call, a note, a pat on the back. You can salute people you know or even people you don't know who are standing for biblical ideals.
Giving people a Barnabas Salute is an encouragement to them. But guess what, it's an encouragement to you too.
"The Barnabas Salute," #109 from the Making a Difference program. Originally recorded April 25, 1994.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
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