en·cour·ager (verb) to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence; to stimulate by assistance, approval
Meanderings: I have been studying the book of Acts and in chapter 11:24, I met the apostle Barnabas. He is described like this; “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord”. His given name was Joseph, but as an apostle, he was given a new name which means “son of encouragement.” He was the kind of guy who saw the best in people, gave of himself personally, put others needs first, took risks for friends (after all, he did take a chance on “Saul the persecutor”) and encouraged other believers in their faith. He looked beyond the hardness of people, and could see the good in them. Apparently, Barnabas chose to see people as God saw them and love them, (agape) just the same. The more one reads about him in scripture, the more he seems like he was a good friend to have.
This got me to wondering about the encouragers, the Barnabas’ in my own life… and it seems that even while I was not walking in relationship with Jesus, God purposely sprinkled many in my path.
Straight Paths: There is my former manager, “Jane”, who hired and mentored a hard-headed, hard-hearted, competitive and slightly foul-mouthed career girl and showed her what a heart filled with love and grace of Christ really looked like (hers, not mine) …and “Carolyn” who co-taught my Bible study for years; and exemplified a vulnerable heart for others and how to live a life with Jesus at her side.
There is my close friend, “Andrea” who has been subject to some of my worst rants, and yet can always see beyond my passion at the moment…quiet and spirit-filled, she is able to diffuse my personal storm and point me to answers for every situation…found right in God’s word…and my two best Korean gals, who I will leave unnamed, but they know who they are…these ladies have my back without qualification, hold me up when I am falling and laugh at me and with me, never allowing me to be too serious.…and my children, who encourage me when I am doubtful of my mothering skills, who kiss me each night and frequently thank me for walking not just talking my personal faith.
There is also “Beatrice”, who calls me several times a week with some incredulous story, pointing out the foibles of the world and then reminds me God’s got it all in His hands, so why worry anyway? I also have my sister, “Creswell” who is wise beyond her years and can give me a really straight-talking-to when I need it…and still she loves me 😉 …and then comes my husband, who reminds me who I am to him and after nearly 20 years of marriage, confirms he would marry me over and over again, (even with all my faults). These people are safe harbours God has given me. They accept me as God sees me, instead of who I am in the flesh….I often marvel at the provision of people that He has supplied.
My Barnabas’ inspire me and challenge me…to be one who listens first and speaks last, to wait on God and only act according to His guidance (and not my own). If it is true to have a friend, one must be one first, then that is only half the job done. To be a Barnabas, one must be willing to encourage one another to be better for each other, to overlook faults and gird each other’s strengths; to be faithful to God’s leading, and yes be willing to point to the truth, God’s truth, and hold each other accountable with love and not judgment.
Like Barnabas, I want to be a “daughter of encouragement” and learn to put my head last and the heart of God and His children first. I desire that God give me the strength to stand up for the unwelcome, like Barnabas did for Saul, to encourage the fledgling faith of another and the wisdom and insight to help someone else see hope in a dark shadow. And I also pray that each of you have a Barnabas or two in your lives. I am thanking mine through this blog…and praising God all the more for each of them. 🙂Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
- Be a Barnabas (womenatthewellfbco.com)