In Acts 4:36 we read of a man named Joses, the disciples gave him a nickname, “Barnabas” which means “son of consolation” (KJV) or one which encourages. The reason he was given this nickname is because in scripture he was always encouraging someone. He befriended Paul when everyone else was afraid of him. He stood up for John Mark when Paul decided to leave him behind as he went on his second missionary journey. When we look at these examples we see just how great of an encourager he was to the people.
In the church today we have plenty of complainers, gripers, grudge holders, fussers, and bitter people. What we need are those of us that will reach out to encourage each other, as we walk through this sin-filled world that brings plenty of problems and cares to believers. Hebrews 3: 13 tells us, “exhort one another daily” (KJV). We should have a desire to encourage others every day.
In the Old Infantry Army there was a group of men called “the rear guard.” Their job was to follow the troops into battle and when someone was wounded they would remove them from the battlefield and take them to a place to be treated for their wounds. They also would make sure that no soldier was left behind or abandoned on the battlefield, but bring them back to safety. We need in the church some “rear guards” that will make it their task to be an encourager and when someone is hurting they will not come and tell them how bad the situation is but will help pick them up, dust them off and help them heal from the “wounds” of battle so they return to fight another day.
Let us look at five groups of people that need to be encouraged as we walk through this life together.
Group One – We must encourage those that are hurting. There are people all around us that are hurting from the situations that life has placed them in, family problems, job problems, relationship problems, financial issues even illnesses. We need to be reaching out to these people instead of tearing them down for the situations they are in and encourage them to turn to Jesus.
Group Two – we must encourage those that are lonely. Many people are in crowds at work or school every day and yet deep inside they are lonely because of the uncertainties of this life. We need to pray for God to show us these people, so we can make an effort to reach out to them with the love of Jesus and so they can know they are not alone.
Group Three – We must encourage those that are doubting. People today seem to be living with a lot of doubt in their lives. Some doubt their salvation, while others doubt their call or abilities, still others doubt their usefulness to God or if God even really cares about them. We need to be sensitive to these people and encourage them to trust in the Lord because He really does care for them.
Group Four – We must encourage those that have fallen. Many have allowed the temptation of sin to take them down as they walk through this life. It is easy to condemn them instead of reaching out to them. We have to be truthful and let them know sin is wrong but God forgives. We must encourage those that have fallen.
Group Five – We must encourage those that not saved. There are so many around us that have never received Jesus as their savior. We need to share the fact that all are sinners but the Good News is that Jesus died to save them and His great salvation is free. Let us encourage them to turn to Jesus the author and finisher of their faith.
Our world needs men and women that will be an encourager like Barnabas. Pray that God will help you step up and use you as an encourager to someone today.
Rev. Tim Burton is minister of Flippin Memorial Baptist Church.