“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (I Thessalonians 5:11, ESV)
Joses, whom his fellow believers called Barnabas, was an encourager. That’s how he obtained his nickname. Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” He was the kind of person we would all appreciate having as a friend.
Despite his miraculous conversion, not everyone readily accepted Saul (later Paul), who had severely persecuted the early church. Barnabas, however, spoke in his defense to the disciples and persuaded them to accept this new convert as a fellow brother in the Lord (Acts 9:26-27). How encouraging it must have been for someone speak up on his behalf.
Paul had two notable encouragers in his life. Barnabas helped when he was a new convert. Then years later, as a prisoner in Rome and near the end of his ministry, Onesiphorus was his encourager. Paul tells of his care in II Timothy 1:16-18.
“He oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain . . . he sought me out very diligently, and found me . . . and in how many things he ministered unto me.”
These verses provide a beautiful picture of how to minister to others. Our words and actions can refresh the weary soul. Whatever the complexity of a situation, we must be willing to step in unashamed to offer encouragement during a trying time. The hurting one may be embarrassed to ask for help, so we seek him out. Then, we remain available to minister as long as there is a need.
The ability to build up another is a gift from God. Romans 12: 6-8 tells us that, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us . . . If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage.”
The gift of encouragement is one of the most valuable qualities one can possess. Any of us can become an encourager by simply allowing God to make us sensitive to the needs of others and then translating that awareness into action. Perhaps we don’t realize just how important even a smile or simple word of encouragement can be to someone. It can be a life changer.
Many times, we shy away from reaching out to others because we “just don’t know what to say or do.” (Oh, how often have we said that!) But our words aren’t nearly as important as just being there. Knowing someone cares is a mighty force in helping us to hold on to our faith in difficult times. What if Paul hadn’t had Barnabas as his encourager and supporter?
Author George M. Adams observed, “Note how good you feel after you have encouraged someone else. No other argument is necessary to suggest that one should never miss the opportunity to give encouragement.”
Each of us who has received another’s kindness now has the responsibility to pay it forward. According to II Corinthians 1:4, God “comforted us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Ask God to direct you to someone needing comfort and encouragement today. And if you feel you just don’t have the right words to say, “I’m praying for you,” fits every situation.
Lord, help me to recognize ways that I can serve others today. Show me how to offer encouragement in both their good times and their difficult times. Let my words always be uplifting and filled with kindness and love. I represent You wherever I go, so help me to represent You well.
Simple Ways to Encourage Others
- Show up. Your presence is encouraging.
- Take time to listen.
- Listen without judgment.
- Pray for them and with them.
- Mail or text an encouraging Bible verse.
- Give a sincere compliment.
- Offer specific help rather than “Call me if you need anything.”
- Celebrate their successes—big or small.
- Show love, kindness, and a smile wherever you go.
What encouraging actions can you add to this list? Leave them in the comments area below.