Summary: The Life of Barnabas is an example of how we should live lifes of encouragement.
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 10
“The Ministry of an Encourager.”
One of the great tragedies of our time is that there are so few kind people around. There are plenty of mean spirited, critical, cynical people, but there are few who just take the time to be kind as a lifestyle. Yet, I believe that this is how every child of God ought to be. Let’s be honest, all of us are at times opinionated, self-centered, rude and sometimes just plain mean in our dealings with other people. This ought not to be! I believe that the Lord would have us to practice a ministry of encouragement as we pass through this world.
You will remember that when left our intrepid disciples, Peter and John they had been hauled before the Sanhedrin and warned never to speak again in the name of Jesus. After they had been further threatened they were released. Peter and John immediately returned to be with the church and tell them all that had transpired. An impromptu prayer meeting broke out in which the church lay all the threats of the enemy before the Lord and ask that he would grant them increased boldness that they might be able to meet this challenge. Now we see how the Lord continued to work in the lives of the believers, and we are introduced to a man who will by his ministry of encouragement have profound effect on the early church.
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. (33) And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (34) Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, (35) and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (36) And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, (37) having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:32-37 (NKJV)
I. The Importance of Encouragement?
I believe that we have a basic misunderstanding of the
meaning of encouragement. The Greek word for "encourage" may be translated as “comfort, console, entreat, beg, implore, counsel, urge, challenge.” We see from this definition that encouragement has a two-fold emphasis: to comfort or reassure, and to challenge or admonish. To encourage someone is to comfort or challenge them with the Word of God in such a way that the person is motivated to lead the Christian life and continue in the Lord's service.
To encourage is to be an instrument of grace. It works out of compassion and love and care for the other person, not judgment and condemnation and accusation.
II. The Incentive for Encouragement?
A. OUR GOD IS A GOD OF ENCOURAGEMENT
In the Greek we find the word “encouragement” or its noun form “encourager” used for all three persons of the trinity.
1. God the Father
More than once we see the Greek word for "encourage" used for God the Father:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort”... (2Cor 1:3)
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, (17) encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” (2Th 2:16-17)
2. The Son
The Greek word for "encourage" is also used as a
title for Jesus: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 Jn, 2: 1 NKJV
Jesus is called “the Advocate,” or as other translations put it, "our defense" or “our Intercessor.” The word used is here is the Greek for "encourager" and it literally means “one called alongside to help.” The Lord Jesus has been called to our side to represent us before the Father.
3. The Holy Spirit
Not surprisingly, the Greek word for "encourage" is also applied to the Holy Spirit: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever…” — John 14:16 (NKJV)
The Holy Spirit in the original language is called the Paraclete here translated as the Comforter, or as the other translations put it, the Holy Spirit is the Counselor. The word used is "encourager" and it also means “one called alongside to help.” The Holy Spirit has been called to our side to assist us.