The Power of Encouragement

Posted on May 23, 2012


One of my favorite people in the New Testament is Barnabas who we meet for the first time at the end of Acts 4 and who is described in Acts 11:24 as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith…” He is mentioned often in Acts 12-16. Barnabas was acknowledged as a prophet and teacher of the Word of God (Acts 13:1).

Encouragement was where he really excelled. His name was Joseph, but the Apostles called him Barnabas – an Aramaic expression meaning son of encouragement.

In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement and the disagreement was over a man named “John, also called Mark” (Acts 15:37). Let’s simply call him Mark. Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them on a missions trip, but Paul did not. Paul was opposed because on an earlier missions trip on which Mark had gone along, Mark bailed out on them under pressure and went back home to Jerusalem (See Acts 13:5 &13 – he is referred to as John in these verses). When the time came for a second missions trip, Paul did not think it would be wise to take Mark along because of what happened the last time. These two great leaders could not agree about Mark, so they went their separate ways. Paul took Silas with him to travel to places that included Syria, Turkey, and Greece. Barnabas stuck with Mark and took him along on a missionary journey to the island of Cyprus, despite Mark’s failure on the previous missionary journey.

Barnabas’ faith in Mark was more than justified. Years later, as he was awaiting the sword of execution in prison, Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4;11: “Get Mark (that’s our guy!) and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” What would have happened if Barnabas had not had faith in Mark and encouraged him along the way? Allow me to speculate. Humanly speaking it is possible that Mark may have dropped out of Christian service altogether. If he had, we might not have the Gospel that bears his name. But God would not let a man like Mark slip away. Why? Because he had a Barnabas to encourage him.

Charles Swindoll wrote that encouragement is “the act of inspiring others with renewed courage, spirit, or hope.” All of us need that – somebody to reassure and re-enforce us.

It is easy to laugh at people’s ideals; easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm. It is easy to discourage. The world is full of discouragers; but we are called to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24-25). Many times a word of encouragement or appreciation has kept a person going. Blessed is the person who speaks such a word. Perhaps it’s time for these words to be applied to your family – to your children, to your spouse (if you’re married), or to your church family.

Give affirmation a try. Take the time to say thank you and tell them why. Be supportive when someone you know is hurting. It will make a world of difference in another person’s life – and do something for you too.

-Pastor Rick Mailloux

Share a time when someone encouraged you and it made a difference in your life by commenting below!

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