Summary: We could use a daily dose of something else, too. We’ll call it a spiritual and emotional vitamin: the vitamin of encouragement.
Last week we began a series of messages concerning relational living and we discussed the impact of LOVE on any relationship. Today we take the next step to better our relationships by talking about ENCOURAGEMENT. What a great way to strengthen any relationship by offering encouragement. PRAYER
We have been encouraged since we were little to take our vitamins. And so, we do. Research shows that since the 1940s, Americans have been taking multivitamins every day. We know that we need these important vitamins and minerals for our bodies to function properly. And with all the fast food and junk food available nowadays, we need a good source of nutrition. A daily dose is good for us.
We could use a daily dose of something else, too. We’ll call it a spiritual and emotional vitamin: the vitamin of encouragement. We were created to live in a relationship with others. And whether you know it or not, we hunger for the affirmation of others. We need a healthy supply of encouragement from others in order to grow as God intends.
Unfortunately, too many of us face a deficiency in this area. Our lives can grow weak without encouragement. And so can our relationships. We’re going to use several passages of Scripture to bring to light how important encouragement is in any relationship. We’ll meet a man named Barnabas who was a natural encourager. His life challenges us to be an encouragement to others. And a relationship will grow stronger as we support the other person and look for ways to offer encouragement.
A father’s 4 children were in the driveway shooting hoops when they asked good old dad for some pointers on proper form. Dad had to go back in time in his mind as he tried to remember his junior high basketball drill. So, he gave the kids his best lecture on the mechanics of a free throw.
Following his 2-minute speech, the kids stood there staring blankly at dad. One of his daughters acting as spokesperson asked, “Could you like, show us what you’re talking about, Dad?” He turned and took one shot, and their confusion vanished and the game went on.
Most times, the simplest way to learn is to watch someone. The old adage says, “Some things are more caught than taught.” And Barnabas is someone worth watching. By his example, he showed us some ways we can encourage others.
Let’s turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:11. READ. Barnabas first pops into Scripture as Joseph of Cyprus in Acts 4:36. The apostles had given him the nickname “Barnabas” which means “Son of Encouragement.” Apparently, this man had developed a reputation of building others up with loving words, generous acts, and even affirming looks. Whenever people in the early church thought of an encourager, they thought of Barnabas, and so the nickname stuck.
Barnabas noticed people and made the effort to invest in them. He left a significant mark on other’s lives. And you know what? We can, too.
Do you know someone who is starving for encouragement? Chance are you do.
Can you think of someone who would really benefit if you lifted them up with a word of encouragement?
You may never know the difference you make in someone’s life when you simply extend the hand of fellowship and invite them into your world. Turn to Acts 9.
In Acts 9, Saul was well-known as a persecutor of Christians. In fact, he was on his way to the city of Damascus with the ok to round up more Christians. On his way, the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. Saul was told to go on to the city and he would receive instructions on what to do. Saul got up to go but was blinded for 3 days.
While in the city, God spoke to a man named Ananias and told him to go to Saul and touch him so that he might regain his sight. At the same time, Saul had a dream of Ananias coming. Ananias did as the Lord instructed and Saul regained his sight and from that moment on became a powerful witness for Jesus Christ. The Lord told him to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
Saul was known as a persecutor of Christians so you can imagine that he wasn’t accepted very well. So, God used Barnabas to bring Saul to a prominent place where people would trust him as a messenger bringing the gospel.
The apostles may not have rejected Saul outright, but you can be sure that they kept their distance. Based on his past record, Saul wasn’t the kind of a person a Christian would want to be around. Christians were known to end up in trouble—or dead—when Saul came around. But now, even though Saul’s heart had been changed completely after he had his personal encounter with Jesus, the believers in Jerusalem didn’t dare trust him.