“Barnabas…encouraged them all.” Ac 11:22-23 NIV
Our talents should be used “for the edification of the church” (1Co 14:12 NKJV). The word edify comes from an architectural term which means “to fortify, construct, and build up.” Your gifts were designed by God to build others up. Only when you use them for that purpose will you find fulfillment. If you’re not familiar with the name “Joseph of Cyprus,” that’s okay. Most of us know him by his nickname, “Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)” (Ac 4:36 NIV). When New Testament Christians were discouraged and needed to be cheered on, the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas, who “encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord…and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.” Then as the work grew and flourished, Barnabas asked Paul to join them, and he took on a supporting role (See Ac 11:25-26). Rebecca Barlow Jordan says: “The encourager may begin in the front row, but eventually he retreats to his rightful place in the background…After Paul and Barnabas had traveled together, Paul emerged as the leader and Barnabas faded into the background as many encouragers do. There are always orphans to adopt and…hungry hearts that need spiritual encouragement. Encouragers don’t look for honors, but the results of their work, like the works of Barnabas, are unmistakable.” What oxygen does for the body, encouragement does for the soul. It inspires us to persevere when it would be easier to just quit. The truth is, you’ll never look into the eyes of a single person who’s not important to God! So help them “with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault” (Ro 14:19 TM).
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