HOW TO BE AN ENCOURAGER
One of the great tragedies of our time is that there are so few kind people
around. There are plenty of
mean-spirited, hateful people, but there are very few who just take the time to
be kind as a lifestyle. Yet, I believe
that this is how every child of God ought to be, Eph. 4:32; Eph. 4:2; 1 Cor. 16:14!
Let’s be honest, many people are opinionated, self-centered, rude and
sometimes, just plain mean in our dealings with others. This ought not to be, especially among saved
people! I believe that the Lord would
have us to practice a ministry of encouragement as we pass through this world.
these verses, we are introduced to a man named Joses. He is better known by the name Barnabas. When this man appeared on the scene in the
early days of the church, he stepped out of obscurity doing good, and when he
stepped off the stage a few years later; he exited doing good as well. In fact, the Bible’s record of this man’s
life and ministry reveals him as a man who had a heart to do good to all those
with whom he came into contact.
I would like to take a quick look at the life of Barnabas, and share with you
why he earned the name “Son of Consolation.” By the way, this name is very special. The word for “consolation comes from
the same word that is translated Comforter, and which refers to the
Holy Ghost, John 14:26. It refers to one who comes alongside of
another to offer help and encouragement.
Apparently, Barnabas had earned the reputation among the Disciples of
Christ, as one who was a helper and encourager of others..
these few minutes that we have together, let’s take some time to examine the
life of Barnabas and see why he was called “the Son of Consolation. As we do, I want us to examine ourselves and
see whether or not we too might be classified as encouragers this evening. I would like to preach for a few minutes on
the thought: How To Be An Encourager.
I. YOU MUST LEARN TO REACH OUT
Acts 9:26-27 Encourage The Desperate - Ill.
The glorious conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
After Saul was converted, he tried to unite himself with the other
disciples who were in Jerusalem,
but out of fear and prejudice about his past, they were afraid to allow him
into their group. However, Barnabas came
to Saul’s side and stood up for Him and told the others about this man’s
amazing conversion. He stood up for one
who desperately needed a friend.
(Ill. There is still a need for this kind of
ministry today! We need to make the
effort and take the time to reach out to those around us who seem to be lonely
or who have been rejected by others.
This is especially true at church.
We should do our best to make everyone who comes to this place feel as
if they belong here and are accepted just as they are. Every person who darkens these doors should
feel like they have returned home after a long absence! We need to love them, welcome them and accept
them into our services!
this describe your life and practice? We
ought to find ourselves actively engaged in this kind of activity. Look around you! There are plenty of lonely, outcast
people. Find them and be a friend to
someone who needs a friend. That is what
Jesus did! It is what He expects of us.)
Acts 11:22-23 Encourage The Disciples - When
the church in Jerusalem heard that there was a
new group of believers in Antioch,
they sent Barnabas to them to help them along.
The Bible tells us that when he arrived, he “exhorted them. This means that he “offered them encouragement! He was excited about what God was doing and
how these new converts were serving the Lord and he did his best to encourage
them to carry on the God.
(Ill. Again, there is a lesson here for us today. We ought to do everything in our power to
encourage other believers in their walk with the Lord. We need to praise others when they labor for
Jesus and gently rebuke our brothers when they stray. Our duty to our fellow believer is to help
them to grow in the Lord and to be an encouragement to them, Rom. 14:19, 1 Thes. 5:11.)
(Ill. There are basically 2 types of people
in every church. One type seeks to find
all the fault with others and the work of the church they can and then they do
their best to tear others down. The
other type seeks to build up their church and fellow believers and they seek to
help them to grow in the Lord. Which
description best fits your life and your dealings with others?)
C. Acts 15:36-40 Encourage The Discouraged -
(Ill. The events of this story.
Apparently, Paul, Barnabas and John Mark were together on a missionary
journey. For some reason, John Mark left
them and returned to Jerusalem,
Acts 13:13. Now, Paul and Barnabas are ready to go out
again and Barnabas wants to take John Mark along to give him a second
chance. Paul disagrees and he and
Barnabas part company, Acts 15:36-40. Paul takes Silas and goes out with him, while
Barnabas takes John Mark and disappears from the biblical account.
Barnabas is never heard from again, his ministry to John Mark had far reaching
consequences! Because Barnabas gave this
discouraged and defeated young man a second chance, his life as a servant of
God was salvaged. In fact, before Paul
died in Rome,
he requested that Mark be sent to him, 2
Tim. 4:11. Even more important is
the fact that because Barnabas took the time to encourage a discouraged
brother, Mark was used of the Lord to pen the Gospel of Mark which gives us an
exciting account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.)
(Ill. What a truth for you and me! How many times have we seen fellow believers
fall by the wayside? Our natural
tendency is to wash our hands of them and go on. God’s plan, however, is far different! We are not to kick our brother when he is
down, but we are to reach out to him in a spirit of love and humility and help
him be restored to the place of fellowship and service. We are to display the grace of the Good
Samaritan by stopping, binding up their wounds and by helping them to
recover. Yet, we find it so much easier
to gossip about them, to find fault with time and to hold their shortcomings
against them for as long as we can.
Aren’t you glad that the Lord isn’t a thing like us? Aren’t you glad that He is the God of second
chances, Jonah 3:1? Why can’t we do the same for those around
us? We can if we will be an encourager!)
II. YOU MUST LEARN TO REACH UP
(Ill. The encourager has an upward
ministry. His work doesn’t merely reach
out to those around him, but it also reaches up as he carries out the work God
has given him to do in this life.)
The Encourager Furthers The
Work Of God The encourager uses his spiritual gifts and love for the
Lord and the Lords people to see that the work of the Lord is carried out in
4:36-37 He Promotes The Work Of God
- The first impression we are given of Barnabas is that he is a man who gave of
himself freely. He gave of his goods to
see that the church and its work went on.
He used the things at his disposal to enhance the work of the Lord.
(Ill. This describes how
we ought to be as well. We ought to all
strive to give of our time, our tithes and our talents so that the church can
prosper and that the burden of ministry doesn’t rest upon the shoulders of one
or two. When we give of ourselves and
our stuff as we should, others are then encouraged to do the same.)
11:23-26 He Praises The Work Of God - When Barnabas had seen all that the
Lord was doing in Antioch,
he set out to find Paul and to share the news with him. Barnabas refused to keep the good blessings
of God quiet!
(Ill. There is a need for
this kind of attitude in the modern church.
There are far too many who want to bad mouth the church and church
folks. When things don’t go as someone
thinks they should, they will get mad and run the church down. They will threaten to withhold “their
tithes. God give us some people who will
go out into the world and brag on what Jesus is doing! God give us some who will tell of the
testimony service, of that good prayer meeting, of that soul being saved, of
that backslider getting things right with God, etc. There are enough whiners and bellyachers; we
need some who will exalt the work of God!)
(Ill. Beware that you are
never guilty of badmouthing the church or the people of God. Just as sure as you do this in front of a
lost person, you stand a good chance of condemning their soul to Hell! You might as well be the one who puts them
there. If all they hear from you is how
bad things are down at the House of God, then why should they want to go and be
part of that mess? On the other hand,
when we tell the lost how great things are.
When we tell them that we have been meeting with the Lord, they will be
curious and they will come to see what is going on at church. Determine in your heart that you will be an
encourager, one who exalts the work of God.)
13:1-3 He Participates In The Work
Of God - Barnabas was chosen by the Holy Ghost to be actively involved in
the Lord’s work. This decision changed
the course of his life forever. From
that moment on, every where Barnabas went, he was a servant of the Lord.
(Ill. The lesson for us
is obvious! No matter where we go in this
world, we are the servants of the Lord.
Whether we are at home, at work, in town, on vacation, etc, we are God’s
servants and we are to live and act accordingly. When we do, we serve as an encouragement to
others to do the same. When we serve the
Lord with enthusiasm and zeal, we stand as an encouragement to others. Therefore, when it comes time to go to church
and do your job for God, arrive early, arrive alert, arrive prepared and arrive
excited and ready to serve God. Show
people how much you enjoy what you are doing and if you don’t enjoy it, ask the
Lord to restore your joy, or simply find another job through which you can
Acts 12:25 An Encourager Finishes
The Work Of God - This verse tells us that Paul and Barnabas fulfilled
their ministry. That is, they stayed
with the work until the work was finished.
As such, they stood as an encouragement to those around them!
(Ill. If you want you
life to be an encouragement to those who watch you serving the Lord, then never
leave a job unfinished. Be faithful to
the task God has called you to and stick by God until He calls you to a new
job, or until He calls you home! There
is no room for quitting in the work of the Lord. It is an encouragement to me to see people
sticking with the Lord through all the times of their life. It is a blessing and gives me a deeper desire
to press on as well!)
III. YOU MUST LEARN TO REACH IN
(The encourager possesses an
internal ministry, a ministry to self.
It is from this ministry to his own spiritual needs that the encourager
is able to demonstrate the reality of Jesus Christ to those around him. While one’s personal ministry cannot be seen
by others, the evidence is plain for all to behold. This was true in the life of Barnabas and it
will be true in your life and mine as well.)
Acts 11:24 An Encourager Demonstrates
Christ By His Life - This verse indicates that Barnabas was a genuine
man of God. He possessed all the
characteristics that marked him as being sold out and on fire for the
Lord. His life served as an
encouragement to holiness by being holy and blameless.
(Ill. Our lives should
stand as an encouragement to lead others deeper into their walk with the
Lord. We do this by getting ourselves as
close to God as can. When others see the
Lord working in and through our lives, they will be challenged and encouraged
to seek the Lord for themselves and to become more like Him.)
does one go about getting close to the Lord?
Only through very hard work! The
only way this is possible is for the believer to immerse himself in the word,
spend time in prayer and to turn his back on the world. Is it possible? Yes!
It is easy? No! Is it worth it? Yes!
God’s promise to us is that when we strive to get closer to Him, He will
come closer to us - James 4:8.)
Acts 13:49-52 An Encourager Displays Contentment In His
Life - Barnabas, along with Paul, was preaching the Word of God and as
a result, persecution arose against them and they were forced to leave town. Instead of being discouraged and quitting as
many others would have done, they shook the dust from their feet and went on
their way rejoicing. That stands as an encouragement to others who are going
through battles in life!
(Ill. We show the true
depth of our faith when we are in the valley!
We show how real our faith in God is by how we react to difficulty and
hardship. We should always seek to react
to adversity by expressing joy and faith in the Lord, Ill. Job 1:20-21. When we do, we will tend to be an
encouragement to those around us. Our
faith and joy will help them when they too face their dark day.
many of us like to wallow in self-pity and in the pity of others. We like it when people are sad that we are
sad. We like it when we hurt if others
can hurt too. This is a wrong spirit and
does not encourage others in the Lord.
Let us learn to exhibit joy in trials and thereby be an encourager to
those around us!)
Conc: I look at Barnabas and realize just how far I have to go to reach his
level. How about you? But, if I know my heart this evening, I know
that I really want to be an encourager! Wouldn’t you like for your life to be remembered
as that of an encourager? If so, then it
will require that you learn to rethink the priorities of your life. God is going to have to come first. Others will have to come second and you will
have to come last, if at all. Where is
the benefit in that, you may ask? The benefit
lies in the truth that when we make the changes necessary to become an
encourager, God will be glorified, others will be edified and we will be
rewarded when we arrive home in glory.
Are you an encourager this evening?