‘And 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 (Acts 4:36, 37).’
If only we could all be encouragers the world would be a far better place. I think of my own schooling where some of the teachers were encouragers, and in their classes I enjoyed learning. I remember there were three such teachers: one taught art, another physics and my class teacher, who taught French.
Encouragement bolsters confidence and stimulates one to press on with whatever task is to be done. Deuteronomy 1:38 is a good example:
‘Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.’
Moses spoke the above words to ‘all Israel’ (v 1), and he narrated the history of their journey in the wilderness. By so doing he encouraged them and motivated them to enter the land the LORD had promised to them (v 8). Moses himself would not enter the land on account of his disobedience at the rock (Numbers 20:11).
We all need encouragement because we get ‘downs’ as well as ‘ups’. There are always difficulties to overcome. Joshua needed to be encouraged to enter the land, and God put words of encouragement into the mouth of Moses: ‘But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see (Deuteronomy 3:28).’
One of the great things about being a member of a church is the shared fellowship in our Lord. The body of the church (Colossians 1:24; 2:19) is wonderfully linked together in such a way that each part works with the others for the benefit of all. Encouragement is an element of loving, and we are all called to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5), to love one another (John 13:34) and to love our neighbours (Matthew19:19).
There are hundreds of situations presented in the Bible where encouragers have inspired, motivated and given confidence for collective action. Here are a few: Judges 20:20; 2 Chronicles 30:22; 35:2; Ezra 1:6.
Moving on to the New Testament, we find Barnabas was a great encourager. Originally called Joses, he was given the name Barnabas by the apostles, and it’s meaning is, ‘Son of Encouragement’. Here’s the relevant text:
‘And 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 (Acts 4:36, 37).’ Another translation is ‘Son of Consolation’.
Paul the Apostle was a great encourager. When he wrote to the Roman church he said he wanted to impart to them a spiritual gift so that they might be established and encouraged together by the mutual faith of the church, including his own faith (Romans 1:12). Their shared faith would encourage them the more.
He had a similar message for the church at Colossi:
‘That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ (Colossians 2:2).’
Encouragement is for the building up of the church (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It can be collective or individual. Whatever way, it is for the good, by inspiring, strengthening and giving confidence.
Here are a few more examples of encouragement found in the Bible:
1 Kings 22:13 ‘Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.”’
Ezra 7:27, 28 ‘……….. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.’
Acts 11:23 ‘When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all with the purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.’
Acts 15:31’When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.’
Acts 16:40 ‘So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.’
Acts 20:2 ‘Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece.’
Acts 27:36 ‘Then they were all encouraged, and also took food for themselves.’
1 Corinthians 14:31 ‘For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.’
Philippians 2:19 ‘But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.’
The question is – Are we encouragers?