Encouragement for our Souls

Keith Knight

"After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers.  They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God."  Acts 14:21-22

We are frequently presented with a variety of situations where there is someone in our life who needs encouragement.  We all have a family member, a friend, a co-worker or neighbor who needs to be encouraged, both believers and mon-believers alike.  But, often our tendency is to criticize instead of encourage.  Criticizing or critiquing others is usually the easy road traveled as opposed to encouraging others.  It does take extra effort to encourage.  But while it’s important to point out someone’s faults or shortcomings at times, we need to realize that we must first build trust with this person through a word of encouragement.

Encouragement is one of the most effective ways to help others.  And while private encouragement is good, public encouragement is typically best.  It’s a choice we make every day.  Think about it, everyone needs encouragement at one time or another, even you!!!  In fact, people need encouragement the most when they feel alone, isolated, or withdrawn from people.  Many people battle with depression, discouragement and even despair, feeling lost and without hope.  And if were honest with ourselves, I think we would acknowledge the vast number of missed opportunities, perfect ideal conditions that God has placed directly in our life to encourage our spouse, our children, a sibling, or other members of family.  So why don’t we encourage others more often?

In the Bible, a man named Joseph was such an encourager that he was given the nickname “Son of Encouragement”, or Barnabas.  Can you imagine what a great nickname to have, “Son of Encouragement?”  His words and actions were an essential aspect to the success of the early Christian church.  God used Barnabas’ relationship with the Apostle Paul at one point and with the gospel writer Mark at another time during missionary journeys to keep these men moving forward optimistically.  These men were battling persecution, they were beat up, worn down and discouraged…to the point where they might have failed or given up on God’s plan.  But an encourager stepped in and helped them to not lose sight of the goal.  Barnabas was an agent of hope and encouragement. 

In Acts 13, when Paul is preaching in Antioch, he mentions this in verse 15 “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it.”    

Will you take the opportunity and time to encourage someone today? 

Let’s ask God to help us be an encourager to others.

 

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