Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The lost art of encouragement
Everyone gets discouraged at times. Even when we aren't discouraged, it is nice to have someone do something to encourage us, to let us know we matter to them and that they care. I am thankful I have people in my life who do that. Sometimes it is a text or Facebook message. Sometimes it is someone wanting to get together to chat and eat. If you live and breathe, you need encouragement at some point. And when - not if - you get discouraged or are just feeling down, you know how it feels when someone does something to life your spirits. A phone call, a text, a small gift, a compliment, lunch..... the possibilities are endless.
And it is Biblical. There are many verses that talk about encouraging each other, bearing one another's burdens,
There is a man in the book of Acts that traveled with Paul some and is mentioned several times in the book of Acts. His name was Barnabas. The meaning of his name was "son of encouragement." The website Biblical Archaeology says this about him:
A noticeable trait of Barnabas, a prominent early church leader fondly nicknamed Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:37), is that he seeks out and assists others. The Biblical text highlights this twice with Saul/Paul (9:26-28; 11:25-26), once concerning the vibrant church in Antioch, Syria (11:19-30) and once in connection with his younger kinsman, John Mark (15:36-41). Often these other individuals and groups are believers in Jesus who, for whatever reason, run a bit against the grain of mainstream thought and action. Instead of ostracizing them, Barnabas not only deliberately encounters them, but also listens to them and welcomes them warmly.
There is more about him there and how he encouraged the early church, but it is too long to post it all here. But what a name....... I really wouldn't want to be called Barnabas, but it would be cool to have your name mean that, especially if you lived up to it. But we don't have to have the name of Barnabas to live up to the name. To live a life that supports and encourages our fellow Christian brothers and sisters..... that would be an awesome thing.
If we had time, and if we cared enough. And if we cared enough to make time.
I need to do it more. We all do. Maybe that would be a good resolution for 2015: encourage others.
Back in February of 2009, almost six years ago, I did three blog posts about encouragement. I am sure there is a lot more that could be added to them, but I will be posting them tomorrow. So if you're thinking it would be nice to encourage someone and need some ideas, I have a few. The list is far from complete, but it is a start. We all need it and want it, but we can't all sit back and wait for others to give it to us. We need to give. And it doesn't have to cost us anything other than a few minutes of our time at the very least.