“But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. “
In Acts 9 we see Barnabas stepping up to be an encouragement to the Apostle Paul at the beginning of his ministry. Let’s face it; Paul did not have a good testimony in the local church up to this point. In fact, Paul himself said that he had persecuted the Church and wasted it (Galatians 1:13). Barnabas could have avoided Paul or kicked him while he was down, but instead, he decided to be an encouragement and help to him. We too have this option when it comes to new believers or even those who have been “in the faith” for quite some time but have fallen back into the “old nature”. We can decide to pile on and discourage them in their walk with the Lord; or we can be like Barnabas and encourage them as we are commanded to do in Galatians 6:1-3.
Are you a Barnabas? Do you desire to be? Here are 7 ways that you can encourage others:
Dig Deep when others need help
In James 2:15-16, James asks us a good question. If we see a fellow believer in need, but refuse to help, what good are we? Sometimes, we have to dig deep within ourselves to be a real help. It’s easy to tell someone that you will pray for them, and prayer is important so please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here, but if you will be honest, you have probably told many people that you would pray for them and promptly forgot all about it. If we are going to promise to pray for someone, then we should do so immediately; while it is fresh on our minds. Otherwise, you will get busy with life, and it could easily slip your mind. If however, it is in our power and/or ability to help the person physically, emotionally, or materially than we should. The cost of helping is immaterial. It’s just the right thing to do. And it will enable us to be an encouragement in an otherwise difficult situation. If the Lord stopped to count the cost of helping us in our sin trouble and decided that it would just be too big a burden; where would we be?
Think the best of others
Every Born Again believer is in the Body of Christ. As such, we all have different gifts and talents. Just as all the “members” of your physical body have a place and function to perform, so do we in the Local Church. Each part is significant and important; all of the different parts of your body work together in order to accomplish whatever task is at hand. It is the same with the different members of the Body of Christ. People tend to put more emphasis on certain functions over others, but the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:22-27 that each part is just as important as the next. Our feet could not get us from the bedroom to the kitchen without the help of our legs, and we can not accomplish the work of the Lord without all the members working together. In the business world, everything is a competition, and people will typically do whatever they can, to get the edge on their competitors, but in the Body of Christ, we are all on the same team; and therefore, we need to function as such. So instead of pointing out the shortcomings of those around you, celebrate what they are good at, and work together for the Glory of the Lord.
Put others first
If we are going to be an encourager of others, then we need to learn to put them first. In Ephesians 4:22-32 we find a list of things, that we as believers need to walk away from in contrast to the things that we should strive for. Right in the middle of this list, we see in Ephesians 4:28, that not only is the thief commanded to stop stealing, but he is commanded instead to work. But notice “what” he is to work towards; not so that he can provide for himself and his own family, but that he can provide for others instead. The needs of others must take the preeminence if we desire to be an encouragement to them. Some will volunteer and donate to others after they take care of their own business, but it is a strange thing in our culture, for you to go out of your way to provide for others first.
Give others multiple ‘second chances’
Jesus shares a Parable with us in Matthew 18:21-35 in which we are shown the importance of forgiveness. We are all first in line for our own forgiveness, but when it comes to forgiving others it’s whole different story. We love our grudges; I know that most of you will deny that last statement, but let’s be honest with one another. Grudges are what make sporting events so entertaining, whether it’s a couple Nascar drivers, Indiana University versus Purdue, or the Indianapolis Colts vs. the New England Patriots; Grudge matches are entertaining. Unfortunately, grudges don’t stop with sporting events. Jesus teaches us that it is utterly ridiculous for us to be unwilling to forgive the minor injustices that are perpetrated against us when he has forgiven us of all our Sin. When contrasted together you would have to agree with Ephesians 4:32. Forgiving someone, especially if they don’t expect it, can be extremely encouraging.
Lift others up
In Galatians 6:10 and Philippians 2:1-4, we see that we are to esteem others higher than ourselves. Again this is contrary to our natural instincts. The world will do everything in its power to beat you up and wear you out. This is why we are told in multiple places to not be weary in well doing. It can seem as if we are fighting an uphill battle at times; which is why it is so important to lift one another up. This is similar to the point above; put others first, but here we aren’t just talking about fulfilling their needs, but simply to encourage them in whatever triumph or trial that they are in the midst of facing.
Seek the good of the ’cause’ rather than personal benefit
The cause of the Lord Jesus Christ is much bigger than we are; Therefore, we need to put the needs of the cause above our own. Galatians 2:20 is a popular verse for coffee mugs, but not so popular in the way we live our lives most of the time. We need to remember that our life is not our own. According to 1 Corinthians 6:20, we were bought with a price, and that price according to Acts 20:28 was Gods own blood. Our life now belongs to him, and whatever it is that he wants us to do, must come before or own desires. See 2 Corinthians 5:15. How is this connected to encouraging others? We can be encouraging others simply by the testimony of our life. When other believers see your example it will encourage them to do the same.
Be a faithful friend
Nothing is more encouraging than having someone stick with you through adversity (Proverbs 17:17). We see the perfect example of this in 1 Samuel 18:1-3. Here, you see that Jonathan is willing to stick with David even though by doing so, he is going against is own Father, as well as what would be best for him, Since Jonathan would be heir to the throne if Saul killed David, but Jonathan stayed with his friend. How about you? Do you tuck tail and run at the first sign of opposition? or do you stay loyal to your friends? They say that Mans best friend is the dog. We can learn a lot about being loyal from the family dog. They will stick with their master (friend) no matter what! Be an encourager by being the most faithful friend that you can be.
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