Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1-2, Christian Standard Bible)
Have you ever noticed how often the Bible tells us to build each other up? In fact, it’s not suggested as just something nice to do; God expects us to support each other in the good times and the bad times. That’s what we do for those we love. We help them soar, not crash and burn.
Most of us have encountered negativity at some point in our lives—that person who seems to be covered in a dark cloud of pessimism. Be careful that their cloud does not darken your sky. Do not accept their words of discouragement or criticism. We all need friends who build us up, encourage us, and bring out our best.
We all consider the apostle Paul one of the greatest voices of the early church. He traveled the then-known world as a missionary evangelist. He established churches. He recognized the potential of others and mentored them. He boldly stood before political leaders. But how much of this would have happened without the encouragement and affirmation of one man—Barnabas. (Read Acts 9:20-28.) We all need a Barnabas in our life. And we all need to be a Barnabas to others.
We affirm. We help them focus on their strengths, their positive traits. “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, CSB).
We encourage. We offer support during times of discouragement, when they hit the rough spots in the road of life. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:11, CSB).
We listen. We take time to understand without interrupting, multitasking, or displaying little interest. “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger,” (James 1:19, CSB).
We forgive. When someone stumbles, we forgive and seek to restore. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, CSB).
We love. If we love, we willingly affirm, encourage, listen, and forgive. “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12, CSB).
Have you met a modern-day Barnabas? You may not notice them at first as they often work quietly in the background. But don’t underestimate their value. Life has its tough times, and we all need someone to come along side and give us a boost.
Go be a Barnabas. What greater reward can we enjoy than knowing we helped a brother or sister along the way.