The latest statistics on prescription drugs are proof that we truly live in a time where more and more people are dealing with massive amounts of discouragement, depression and despondency. This is happening during a time in which personal and corporate success is being heralded as the answer for everything. While many have found solace through, money, their career, pastoral counseling or from a prescription bottle, others are still desperate for someone to step forward with words of encouragement.
Real success is not about wealth or fame. The reason? Success is fleeting. One can be successful today, without being effective tomorrow. For our lives to count in the long run, we must realize that it is what we do for others that truly counts. Sharing a kind word, a note of appreciation or a text stating our love is positive for both giver and receiver. Every one of us can be about the ministry of encouraging others.
Yes, there are people who possess the motivational gift of encouragement. And yes, they tend to get very excited when they are able to encourage another person. But, even if we don’t see ourselves as “gifted” to encourage others. We all must be concerned about the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health of others (than we are about ourselves).
As Christians, we should encourage the lost to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But we should not stop there. We should ask the Holy Spirit to stir our hearts and give us opportunities to love, encourage and console. How can we effectively do this? By caring about others. Let’s look at the example Jesus gave us.
Jesus cared about and saw the potential in every person He met. Whether well or ill, young or old, Jesus noticed, took time to talk and then encourage everyone around Him. One day when Jesus was teaching the adults, there were some children who were brought to be blessed by Him. His disciples, not wanting Jesus to be bothered, tried to turn away the children. The words Jesus spoke concerning their actions were not only directed toward His disciples, but for us as well. Matthew 19:13-14 says, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
The Gospels are filled with a great number of stories of Jesus blessing and encouraging adults and children. In them Jesus encouraged the hurting, discouraged and desperate people. Examples include Bartimaeus (a blind beggar who He healed), Zacchaeus (a well known tax collector with whom He had lunch with), Jairus (the leader of a local synagogue whose daughter had died, but Jesus raised her from the dead) and an unclean, outcast woman with a terrible blood condition who dared to transgress the law to be near Jesus. This unnamed woman touched the bottom edge of Jesus’ robe hoping to find some relief. While others ignored or dismissed her, Jesus stopped, turned to talk and then encouraged her (Matthew 9:20-22).
Barnabas is another example of a person who encouraged others. While Barnabas understood his talents, abilities, and especially, his limitations, he chose to stay positive by encouraging others. In fact, he did a very unusual thing. He went to Tarsus to look for man called “Saul of Tarsus.” This religious zealot was prosecuting Christians for their faith. No one was interested in being a friend to him. No one, that is, but Barnabas. Barnabas encouraged, helped and became a friend to the person who would come to be known as the Apostle Paul (Acts 11:24-25).
The actions of Barnabas is the picture of encouragement. He was willing to accept, work with, encourage and then travel with the Apostle Paul when other leaders didn’t fully trust him or care to be near him. Even years later, when Barnabas chose to separate from Paul’s ministry, he chose to spend his time pouring into a young man named John Mark (who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas while on an earlier mission trip). No doubt Barnabas saw that John Mark needed encouraging. It is also evident that Barnabas could look beyond the faults of people and see their needs as well as what they “could be.”
Will you seek to encourage, bless and console the people around you today? Will you give positive reinforcement and remind others that God will supply all of their need according to His riches in glory? In doing so you will be a blessing. You will sow seeds to your own harvest of blessing. For whatever we sow, we reap. If we give encouragement, encouragement will be given to us when we are in need of it.
I encourage you today with the words from 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” Yes, the Lord really cares. He really cares about you!
Because our Lord cares for us, let us also care about others and encourage them today!