Summary: In this sermon you will consider three traits of the person who serves as an encourager.
Have you ever had someone encourage you at a time when you desperately needed it? There is nothing as refreshing as an encouraging word or deed. It is like a fresh drink of water on a hot day. In fact, I believe encouragement is the greatest need in our day. Most all people you meet are carrying some burden. They need a word of encouragement.
• Thousands of people are struggling with disease and need a word of encouragement, a word of hope.
• Recent statistics indicate 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Many married couples need a word of encouragement.
• Children are moving through the stage of uncertainty. They need a word of encouragement that will build their self esteem.
• Our youth are struggling with many issues as they adapt to life’s changes. They need a word of encouragement.
• Many senior adults are seeking hope and a word that their lives matter. They have lost their physical strength, some have lost their mate and many are struggling with illnesses. They need a word of encouragement.
Illustration: Years ago I read a story about a young man named Victor Seribriarkoff. At age 15 he was called a dunce. He left school because he was so discouraged. At age 32 he was given an I.Q. test and reflected a score of 161. (Almost as high as mine. Ha! Ha!) He was elected chairperson of the Mensa Society---for geniuses. His teacher discouraged him when she needed to have encouraged him.
(Proclaim magazine, published by Lifeway of the Southern Baptist Convention. 1987. July-Sept. P. 36)
There are other Victors around. Some are scholastic Victors. Some are sports Victors. Some are self esteem Victors. However, every person alive needs an encourager who sees the God given potential in them and sees the potential of a relationship with God.
Today we meet a man who epitomizes encouragement. His name means, encouragement. The man was Barnabus. We first meet him in Acts 4:36. “There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). Joseph was his given name. However, the apostles gave him the name, Barnabus. I am convinced the apostles gave him this name because of his character.
What was there about Joseph’s character that would prompt the apostles to name him Barnabus---which means "son of encouragement"? I want you to see three character traits in Joseph. These are the traits that won him the nickname of Barnabus.
First, he was a man with a generous spirit. In the text in Acts 4 we are told that Barnabus sold a parcel of land and donated the proceeds to meet the needs of the poor. He did this because of his faith in Jesus Christ. Barnabas was not like a certain Baptist preacher I read about. One day he received a phone call from a woman wanting to arrange a funeral for her beloved dog. She said, “I’ve called several Churches, and none of the churches will do a funeral for my dog. Every church I called laughed at my request." The Baptist preacher said, "Ma’am, I am curious as to why you want this done." She said, "Well, I just loved that dog and I want a funeral for him." "The preacher said, "that’s nice but we don’t do pet funerals. She then said, "I sure loved him, I’d be willing to give $10,000 to any church who would hold the funeral." "Oh," said the preacher, “why didn’t you tell me your dog was a Baptist? Of course we’ll do it."...
People with a generous spirit have a way of lifting the spirits of others. When I moved to Northport I meet a lady who had this gift. When I first moved there I visited this lady. She was in her late 70’s when I first met her. I went to visit one afternoon, thinking I would be an encouragement to her. I have always felt it is important to visit people who are struggling and offer a prayer and a word of encouragement. When I met this lady I felt I was fairly faithful to perform the ministry of encouragement. As I visited this senior adult she recounted her activities of the previous afternoon. She said she had visited 14 people and carried gifts of food to them. As I left her home that afternoon I walked away with a grocery bag full of food. It contained strawberries, pecans, pies, meat and vegetables. She lived in a home that was worth maybe 1/3 of the amount of my home. I felt I should be giving her a bag of food. I went to offer encouragement but went away feeling 10 feet tall. She had a generous spirit.
Generosity is not limited to financial giving. Generosity could be kind words. Generosity could be giving a helping hand. Our “Faith works” ministry represents an act of generosity.