One of the great tragedies of our time is that there are so few genuinely kind people around. There are plenty of mean-spirited, hateful people, but there are very few who just take the time to be kind as a lifestyle. Yet, I believe that every child of God ought to be kind.
Consider what the Scriptures have to say about it:
Eph. 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
Eph. 4:2 “...forbearing one another in love.”
1 Cor. 16:14 “...let all things be done in charity.”
Let’s be honest, many people are opinionated, self-centered, rude and sometimes, just plain mean in their dealings with others. This ought not to be, especially among saved people!
I believe God wants us to practice a ministry of encouragement as we pass through this world.
When Barnabas appeared on the scene in the early days of the church, he stepped out of obscurity doing good, and when he stepped off the stage a few years later; he exited doing good as well.
Today, I would like to take a quick look at the life of Barnabas, and share with you why he earned the name “Son of Consolation” (Acts 4:36-37).
By the way, this name is very special. The word for “consolation” comes from the same word that is translated “Comforter”, and which refers to the Holy Ghost (John 14:26). It refers to one who comes alongside of another to offer help and encouragement. Apparently, Barnabas had earned the reputation among the Disciples of Jesus, as one who was a helper and encourager of others..
Let’s take some time to examine the life of Barnabas and see why he was called “the Son of Consolation.” As we do, I want us to examine ourselves and see whether or not we, too, might be classified as encouragers.
YOU MUST LEARN TO REACH OUT
Encourage The Desperate (Acts 9:26-27). After Saul was converted, he tried to unite himself with the other disciples who were in Jerusalem, but out of fear and prejudice about his past, they were afraid to allow him into their group. However, Barnabas came to Saul’s side and stood up for Him and told the others about this man’s amazing conversion. He stood up for one who desperately needed a friend.
There is still a need for this kind of ministry today! We need to make the effort and take the time to reach out to those around us who seem to be lonely or who have been rejected by others. This is especially true at church. We should do our best to make everyone who comes to this place feel as if they belong here and are accepted just as they are. Every person who darkens these doors should feel like they have returned home after a long absence! We need to love them, welcome them and accept them into our services!
Does this describe your life and practice? We ought to find ourselves actively engaged in this kind of activity. Look around you! There are plenty of lonely, outcast people. Find them and be a friend to someone who needs a friend. That is what Jesus did! It is what He expects of us.
Encourage The Disciples (Acts 11:22-23). When the church in Jerusalem heard that there was a new group of believers in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to them to help them along. The Bible tells us that when he arrived, he “exhorted” them. This means that he “offered them encouragement!” He was excited about what God was doing and how these new converts were serving the Lord and he did his best to encourage them to carry on with God.
Again, there is a lesson here for us today. We ought to do everything in our power to encourage other believers in their walk with the Lord. We need to praise others when they labor for Jesus and gently rebuke our brothers when they stray. Our duty to our fellow believer is to help them to grow in the Lord and to be an encouragement to them.
Rom. 14:19 “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
1 Thes. 5:11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
There are basically 2 types of people in every church. One type seeks to find all the fault with others and the work of the church they can and then they do their best to tear others down. The other type seeks to build up their church and fellow believers and they seek to help them to grow in the Lord. Which description best fits your life and your dealings with others?
Encourage The Discouraged (Acts 15:36-40). Apparently, Paul, Barnabas and John Mark were together on a missionary journey. For some reason, John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Now, Paul and Barnabas are ready to go out again and Barnabas wants to take John Mark along to give him a second chance. Paul disagrees and he and Barnabas part company. Paul takes Silas and goes out with him, while Barnabas takes John Mark and disappears from the biblical account.
While Barnabas is never heard from again, his ministry to John Mark had far reaching consequences! Because Barnabas gave this discouraged and defeated young man a second chance, his life as a servant of God was salvaged. In fact, before Paul died in Rome, he requested that Mark be sent to him (2 Tim. 4:11). Even more important is the fact that because Barnabas took the time to encourage a discouraged brother, Mark was used of the Lord to pen the Gospel of Mark which gives us an exciting account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How many times have we seen fellow believers fall by the wayside? Our natural tendency is to wash our hands of them and go on. God’s plan, however, is far different! We are not to kick our brother when he is down, but we are to reach out to him in a spirit of love and humility and help him be restored to the place of fellowship and service. We are to display the grace of the Good Samaritan by stopping, binding up their wounds and by helping them to recover.
Yet, we find it so much easier to gossip about them, to find fault with them and to hold their shortcomings against them for as long as we can. Aren’t you glad that the Lord isn’t that way? Aren’t you glad that He is the God of second chances (Jonah 3:1)? Why can’t we do the same for those around us? We can if we will be an encourager!
YOU MUST LEARN TO REACH UP
The encourager has an upward ministry. His work doesn’t merely reach out to those around him, but it also reaches up as he carries out the work God has given him to do in this life.
The Encourager Furthers The Work Of God. The encourager uses his spiritual gifts and love for the Lord and the Lord’s people to see that the work of God is carried out in this world.
He Promotes The Work Of God (Acts 4:36-37). The first impression we are given of Barnabas is that he is a man who gave of himself freely. He gave of his goods to see that the church and its work went on. He used the things at his disposal to enhance the work of the Lord.
This describes how we ought to be as well. We ought to all strive to give of our time, our tithes and our talents so that the church can prosper and that the burden of ministry doesn’t rest upon the shoulders of just one or two.
When we give of ourselves and our stuff as we should, others are then encouraged to do the same.
He Praises The Work Of God (Acts 11:23-26). When Barnabas had seen all that the Lord was doing in Antioch, he set out to find Paul and to share the news with him. Barnabas refused to keep the good blessings of God quiet! There is a need for this kind of attitude in the church today. There are far too many who want to bad mouth the church and church folks. When things don’t go as someone thinks they should, they will get mad and run the church down. They will threaten to withhold “their” giving. God give us some people who will go out into the world and brag on what Jesus is doing! God give us some who will tell others about the testimony service, of that good prayer meeting, of that soul being saved, of that backslider getting things right with God, etc.
There are enough whiners and bellyachers; we need some who will exalt the work of God! Beware that you are never guilty of badmouthing the church or the people of God. If all others hear from you is how bad things are down at the House of God, then why should they want to go and be part of that mess?
On the other hand, when we tell the lost how great things are. When we tell them that we have been meeting with the Lord, they will be curious and they will come to see what is going on at church. Determine in your heart that you will be an encourager, one who exalts the work of God.
He Participates In The Work Of God (Acts 13:1-3). Barnabas was chosen by the Holy Ghost to be actively involved in the Lord’s work. This decision changed the course of his life forever. From that moment on, every where Barnabas went, he was a servant of the Lord.
The lesson for us is obvious! No matter where we go in this world, we are the servants of the Lord. Whether we are at home, at work, in town, on vacation, etc, we are God’s servants and we are to live and act accordingly. When we do, we serve as an encouragement to others to do the same. When we serve the Lord with enthusiasm and zeal, we stand as an encouragement to others.
Therefore, when it comes time to go to church and do your job for God, arrive early, arrive alert, arrive prepared and arrive excited and ready to serve God. Show people how much you enjoy what you are doing and if you don’t enjoy it, ask the Lord to restore your joy.
An Encourager Finishes The Work Of God (Acts 12:25). This verse tells us that Paul and Barnabas fulfilled their ministry. That is, they stayed with the work until the work was finished. In doing so, they stood as an encouragement to those around them!
If you want your life to be an encouragement to those who watch you serving the Lord, then never leave a job unfinished. Be faithful to the task God has called you to and stick by God until He calls you to a new job, or until He calls you home! There is no room for quitting in the work of the Lord.
YOU MUST LEARN TO REACH IN
The encourager possesses an internal ministry, a ministry to self. It is from this ministry to his own spiritual needs that the encourager is able to demonstrate the reality of Jesus Christ to those around him. While one’s personal ministry cannot be seen by others, the evidence is plain for all to behold. This was true in the life of Barnabas and it will be true in your life and mine as well.
An Encourager Demonstrates Christ By His Life (Acts 11:24). This verse indicates that Barnabas was a genuine man of God. He possessed all the characteristics that marked him as being sold out and on fire for the Lord. His life served as an encouragement to holiness by being holy and blameless.
Our lives should stand as an encouragement to lead others deeper into their walk with God. We do this by getting ourselves as close to God as can. When others see the Lord working in and through our lives, they will be challenged and encouraged to seek the Lord for themselves and to become more like Him.
How does one go about getting close to the Lord? Only through very hard work! The only way this is possible is for the believer to immerse himself in the Word, spend time in prayer and to turn his back on the world. Is it possible? Yes! It is easy? No! Is it worth it? Yes! God’s promise to us is that when we strive to get closer to Him, He will come closer to us (James 4:8).
An Encourager Displays Contentment In His Life (Acts 13:49-52). Barnabas, along with Paul, was preaching the Word of God and as a result, persecution arose against them and they were forced to leave town. Instead of being discouraged and quitting as many others would have done, they shook the dust from their feet and went on their way rejoicing.
That stands as an encouragement to others who are going through battles in life! We show the true depth of our faith when we are in the valley! We show how real our faith in God is by how we react to difficulty and hardship. We should always seek to react to adversity by expressing joy and faith in the Lord When we do, we will tend to be an encouragement to those around us. Our faith and joy will help them when they, too, face their dark day.
However, many of us like to wallow in self-pity and in the pity of others. We like it when people are sad that we are sad. We like it when we hurt if others can hurt too. This is a wrong spirit and does not encourage others in the Lord. Let us learn to exhibit joy in trials and thereby be an encourager to those around us!
I look at Barnabas and realize just how far I have to go to reach his level. How about you? If I know my heart today, I know that I really want to be an encourager! Wouldn’t you like for your life to be remembered as that of an encourager? If so, then it will require that you learn to rethink the priorities of your life. God is going to have to come first. Others will have to come second and you will have to come last.
Where is the benefit in that, you may ask? The benefit lies in the truth that when we make the changes necessary to become an encourager, God will be glorified, others will be edified and we will be rewarded when we arrive home in glory.
Are you an encourager?
Until next time...enjoy the journey!
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