Today I’ll be sharing an essay by my mom about a famous encourager. But first, let me encourage you to check out Every Wednesday Morning by Beth Smith. If you want a copy for yourself, or want to give a few copies as Christmas gifts, you can find Every Wednesday Morning here on Etsy. It’s a collection of 65 weekly devotionals that will encourage you, challenge you, and make you laugh all at the same time. If you grab a copy, be sure to let me know what you think!
Now, back to The Barnabas Bunch by Beth Smith.
Acts 4:36 tells of a man named Joseph who encouraged the early church so much that they nicknamed him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. Barnabas lived up to his name. He encouraged the apostles to accept Paul, and he encouraged the new believers in Antioch to stay true to their faith.
We can be great encouragers as well. I’d like to invite you to join my new club, the Barnabus Bunch. But like any club, we have a few by-laws.
- We promise not to give prideful encouragement by building ourselves up, or by saying, “If you’d do what I did …” with a superior attitude. 1 Corinthians 8:1 (NIV) says, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (So no puffin’ allowed.)
- We promise not to build up and tear down at the same time, sort of like the old southern cliché of saying something rotten but ending the sentence with “bless her heart.” We will concentrate on words that really do build others up.
- We promise to consider these questions before giving encouragement:
Will it help develop faith and hope?
Does it promote peace?
Is it spoken in love?
Will it bless the person receiving it?
Paul describes the perfect attitude of an encourager in Romans 15, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Romans 15:1-2 NIV). You can bear with my doubts and fears and weaknesses and use the strengths you have in those areas to encourage me. In turn, I use my strengths where you may be weak to build you up. We do this, not to please ourselves, but to show our love for each other. And it’s God who gives us the ability to be encouragers, even as he encourages us.
If you agree to the three rules listed, then welcome to the Barnabus Bunch! Here’s the club motto. (I hope you’ll memorize it and say it often.)
“Therefore, encourage one another and build up each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).
Activate your new membership by encouraging someone today. You’ll find you are encouraged yourself as you help someone else. May God make each of us sensitive to the needs of others, and may he use us to express his love.