And Joses who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which was translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  – Acts 4:36-37

One unpleasant situation a soccer team can find itself in is playing a crucial away match. This is when the team has to practically play against a ‘multitude’ of players. While they may not have any problem playing against the 11 men or women on the pitch, there is very little they can do about the numerous supporters at the stand. Ask any footballer and he will tell you how demoralizing the booing and taunts can be even when they are playing a good game.

The truth is, we all need encouragement.  It was George M. Adams who said, “Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.”  But much as it is good to receive encouragement, do you know it is better, and often more rewarding, to give it to someone else? In fact, the surest way to receive encouragement is to give it.  Little wonder the Bible states, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

To give encouragement is to infuse hope to someone about the future.  And that was precisely what the prophet Jeremiah did when he declared the heart of God to the children of Israel in Jeremiah 29:11.  In his words, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  In the midst of their despondency, God wanted his children to see that the future He had provided for them was much more pleasant than their present or past.

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Now, have you ever received encouragement?  I am sure you will remember how it spurred you to greater heights.  Do you know you can make the same or even greater impact in someone else’s life?

One definite way to encourage others is through your words. The apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Ephesians, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that builds up and provides what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you” (Ephesians 4:29 TEV).  Your words can either make or mar, hence this advice to cultivate the habit of speaking only words that uplift, and not words that tear down.

The truth is, an encouraging phone call today can turn someone’s mountain to a molehill.  A soothing message left in the mailbox can spur a dejected soul to pick up the broken pieces of his or her life.  A testimony shared with a friend in need can help remind him or her that God is still in the business of working miracles.  A timely text message can inspire hope in that brother or sister who thinks his or her world has come to an end.  Any wonder the Bible states that when the disciples in Antioch received a letter from the brethren in Jerusalem, they rejoiced over its encouragement (Acts 15:31).

Now, you can also encourage through your actions.  And reference is made in our opening text to a certain disciple whose actions impacted others so positively that he was nicknamed Barnabas, which meant the Son of Consolation or Encouragement. This was the man who brought the newly converted Saul of Tarsus to the disciples when the brethren rejected him and refused to believe his conversion testimony.   He also sold his property and brought the proceeds to the disciples to meet the needs of the early Church.  His acts of encouragement were noted by all, and this led to his exaltation.

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And I have discovered that the surest way to have your own needs met is to meet someone else’s needs.  If what you have is not enough, then sow it into someone’s life. It might just be enough, or much more, to dispel the despair in that person’s life.  It is rare to find an encourager lacking encouragement when needed.  As a matter of fact, most of history’s great achievers practiced some form of generosity. Remember, God watches over every seed you sow to ensure it brings forth bountifully.

Do you need encouragement?  The ultimate Source of encouragement is the Holy Spirit.  In fact, He is your very Helper – the One who always stands by you.  Rather than get or stay discouraged, why not invite Him today into your situation, if you are already born again?  If not, I want to encourage you to surrender your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit.  If you would love to, then pray this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I thank you for dying that I might live. Today, I confess that I am a sinner. I ask that you forgive me my sins and come into my heart. I receive the gift of eternal life and welcome your Spirit into my life. Amen.