“For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.” [Acts 4:36]
The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. [Acts 11:22-24]
Think of the most encouraging person you know. Think of how you feel each time you’re around that person. Don’t you feel brought to life? Like you just encountered a piece of God’s heart?
While I wasn’t there during the early church, I can imagine that this is what it was like to be around Barnabas. If he literally was nicknamed due to being so encouraging, I can only imagine how fun and freeing it was to be around him.
So why is encouragement so important?
I think sometimes we may believe that encouragement is just saying nice things to the people around us. And it is to a degree… but it is also so much more than that.
Encouragement is speaking life into people. It’s sharing the Father’s heart with others so that they are able to walk in the knowledge that God loves them. It’s also encouraging people to live the life that God calls them into. It’s showing others the hope in situations when they can’t see it for themselves.
When we look at the verse from Acts 11, we see that when Barnabas encouraged the people he was with, he encouraged people to keep pursuing the Lord. Then, from that lots of people literally came to know Jesus!! That is wild, y’all. Through encouragement, people encountered God and decided that He was worth pursuing.
I just want to encourage every person reading this to live in the freedom to encourage others around them. If you see something you like about someone, tell them! Whether it’s your friend’s new haircut that you think is cute or a personality trait in a friend that you admire, tell them! Ask God what He loves about people and don’t be scared to tell them! When you do that, you speak life over others, and that is so, so powerful.
Imagine how you feel when others speak things like that over you, and know that you have that same ability to make people feel loved and seen within you. Your words and heart for others are powerful beyond measure!!
God, I thank You that You love every single person that I interact with. Lord, I just ask that You will show me Your heart for others and give me the boldness to speak that kindness over the people around me. Give me the heart of encouragement that Barnabas had! Amen.