Encouragement seems like such a ‘nice guy’ concept that we often forget how important encouragement can be for our faith.
Encouragement Opens Doors
In Acts 9, we find Saul (Paul) struggling to find acceptance within the community of early Christians. It’s understandable that no one would want Saul around. After all, his job had previously been to hunt down Christians and have their either arrested or put to jail. Being newly converted and commissioned by God to spread the word of Christ, he needed help gaining acceptance within the early church.
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.
So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. (Acts 9:26-28)
Today, we know Paul as one of the greatest apostles to ever live and certainly one of the most important to the content of the New Testament. Pauline theology is crucial to who we are as Christians. If it weren’t for the encouragement of a single servant, Barnabas, Paul might not have ever started his ministry. From Barnabas’ example, we see that a simple act of encouragement, even in the face of unpopularity to large crowds, can result in open doors which change the face of humanity.
Encouragement Drives Us To Do Great Things
Once Paul found his place in the early church, he became encouraged by everything he saw around him.
The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.) (Acts 11:21-26)
Paul was both an encouragee and an encourager. He saw what the early church was doing in Antioch and was encouraged by the progress of the early church. This motivated him to begin his ministry and the result was explosive growth.
Jesus Christ wants the same explosive growth in the church today. We are the Pauls and the Barnabases. We must be there to encourage one another to be great and to serve God’s Will. Through us, God will complete the unfinished work He has in this world. Let us encourage one another to live in the Spirit and act as God calls us to act.