August 27, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Five Ways You Can Encourage Others.
In Acts 4 we read about a man nicknamed Barnabas: “Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement)” (Acts 4:36a; emphasis added).
The Greek word here for “encouragement” is parakletos, which is also the word for the Holy Spirit. So here is Barnabas, a man with the gift of encouragement, doing for others what the Holy Spirit does for the child of God—coming alongside to comfort, give hope, and get us on our way.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3; emphasis added). God has cornered the market on encouragement.
Satan, then, is the minister of discouragement. Discouragement is a major cause of failure.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
“Fainthearted” means somebody who is discouraged. This verse is saying, “Encourage the discouraged.” That is a command from Almighty God.
Here are five practical ways you can provide encouragement for a friend.
Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
There was persecution in Jerusalem, and there was poverty—so there was a need. These were difficult times. Barnabas saw a need and moved in to meet it.
He knew there was a difference between ownership and stewardship.
We are just managing the affairs of God; we don’t own anything. “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7b) Does God not have a right to ask for it if He placed it in your hands?
You say, “I’m not rich, and I have nothing to sell.” There is more than money to give! Give help, time, wisdom, prayer. Give encouraging words for friends. Give you.
Peter and John were not rich like Barnabas was. But when they met a crippled man who needed help, “Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk’” (Acts 3:6).
There is someone in your life who needs help. Come alongside them and say, “What I have, I give you.”
Saul had been an enemy of the Church, and now he was preaching Jesus. “Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 9:22).
He had been the mighty Pharisee, with so much zeal to destroy the Church. So, “When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26).
He’d had them killed, thrown into prison, and everything else. Paul needed somebody to love him. He had lost his old friends, and his new friends were suspicious of him.
But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Paul knew, then, what it was like to be received and encouraged. (See Romans 15:5-7). Newborn Christians need to be loved and included. Why don’t you ask God to send you a new believer to encourage?
In Acts 11, a revival has broken out in the church at Antioch.
Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. (Emphasis added)
When the apostles found out about the revival in Antioch, they wondered, “Who are these people? What do they believe? Are they orthodox, or is this a cult?” They chose Barnabas to investigate.
Barnabas went, and he saw the grace of God. He went back and reported, “These are our brothers and sisters, and we need to get with them.” He knew how to encourage others in the Lord. He was not a divider. He encouraged others by building partnerships.
Barnabas, when he went to Antioch, thought, “Look at all God is doing! They need somebody with an organizational mind and spiritual insight. They need a leader.”
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.
Barnabas had enough sense to know that somebody else needed to do it. And he saw Saul’s hidden spiritual gifts that needed to be developed, discovered, and put to work.
It takes much grace to play second fiddle and play it well, but Barnabas did. Not everybody is a leader. Barnabas wasn’t a leader; he was an encourager.
Leaders are all over. Discover them, single them out, equip them, and send them out.
Can you imagine Barnabas and Paul now having a contention? But they did, and it was a sharp one.
A young man named John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s first missionary journey. Somewhere along that journey, Mark got homesick, or afraid, and left.
Later, Paul and Barnabas wanted to go back again.
Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God.
Barnabas knew this boy had failed, but he also knew that failure is not final, and he wanted to mend the broken relationship. So he nurtured John Mark.
Time passes. Later, Paul is in a filthy Roman prison. He writes to Timothy, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). The man Paul would have nothing to do with! How did this happen? Because Barnabas refused to let go of a good man, just because he failed.
There are many in the Church who have failed. They don’t need us going around, saying, “Did you hear about so and so?” They don’t need lectures. Paul wrote, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1a).
Barnabas never wrote a book of the Bible, but two people that he encouraged did. Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, wrote thirteen New Testament books. John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. Barnabas was the man God used to develop their leadership.
Put encouragement to work. Learn how to encourage. Offer a prayer of encouragement for a friend.
You may be a Paul, or a Mark, but be a Barnabas, too.
Acts 3:6, 4:36-37, 9:22,26-27, 11:22-26, 15:37-40; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Romans 15:5-7; 2 Timothy 4:11; Galatians 6:1
LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?...He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend…
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.