I wasn’t aware of it until after the fact, but September 12 was “National Day of Encouragement”. If there is anything we need in 2020, it is certainly encouragement! There is no need to go over once again that long list of woes that have caused so much discouragement in our nation. Many people are struggling for various reasons. We can’t solve everyone’s problems, but perhaps we can make life seem more manageable if we simply offer some encouragement.
The Bible talks a lot about encouragement. For one thing, it is a commandment to obey. 1 Thess.5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Every Christian is supposed to spend a significant amount of time encouraging other followers of Jesus.
Furthermore, for some Christians, encouragement is more than a duty; it is their spiritual gift. Rom.12:6-8 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…if it is to encourage, then give encouragement…” Many believers have been enabled by the Holy Spirit to encourage others in various ways. This is their special way of building up the church.
So, if you have the gift of encouragement, you should constantly be looking for ways to exercise that gift, saying and doing things that lift people up and exhorting them to be all that they are called to be in Christ. And for those who may not be gifted in that area, remember that encouragement is still a responsibility for every Christian. We must always be seeking opportunities to fulfill that responsibility by brightening the day for other followers of Jesus.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, was such a good encourager that he was given the nickname “Barnabas”, which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). If we want to be known as sons and daughters of encouragement, we would do well to look at his example.
First, Barnabas encouraged others with his generosity. He sold a field that he owned and gave the money to the church (Acts 4:37). Such a big offering would lift the spirits of the entire congregation. However, even smaller gifts can go a long way to encourage someone who is in need. A gift certificate or some other gesture of generosity might be all it takes to make someone feel appreciated.
Another way that Barnabas practiced encouragement is seen in Acts 9:26-28. Here Saul was trying to join the disciples after his conversion, but they were afraid of him because of his history of persecuting Christians. But Barnabas vouched for Saul and told the apostles that his conversion was real. Because Barnabas stood up for him, Saul was accepted by other believers. Maybe there will come a time when you can encourage someone by helping them feel accepted in the church. Your testimony of their faithfulness might be just what they need to be encouraged in their faith.
Finally, Barnabas encouraged Saul by bringing him to Antioch and putting him to work teaching the new believers there (Acts 11:19-26). Many Christians long for fulfillment. They want to use their talents in a meaningful way to build up the kingdom. Is there someone you know who is looking for a way to have a positive impact in the church? By helping others to find their place to serve in the local congregation, we encourage them more than we will ever know.
May this day, and every day, be a day of encouragement!