As an American, when I watch the news, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude that I’m not going through what others are going through. But at the same time, my heart is melting for all the suffering going on out there.
I am reminded of a song years ago sung by Diana Ross (among many others), “What The World Needs Now.” The lyrics:
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love It's the only thing that there's just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, No not just for some but for everyone. Lord, we don't need another mountain, there are mountains and hillsides enough to climb, there are oceans and rivers, enough to cross. Enough to last till the end of time.”
Wow does that song say a lot for us today as we watch the anger, the fighting, the wars, and the selfishness. Why the wars? Everyone is out for himself or herself, fighting over stuff, fighting for their rights. The root of the wars is lack of love.
So how can we make a difference? We need to spread the love, and from the outpouring of love will come encouragement. We need to be an encourager. To be an encourager is to give courage to someone to continue on.
There once lived a great man, mentioned in the Bible, who knew how to encourage. His name was Barnabas, (which was a nickname that meant “son of encouragement”). What can we learn from this great encourager?
Barnabas was generous.
Acts 4:36-37 records that he sold some land to be able to donate to the apostles for doing God's work. Surely this act of love was encouraging to the apostles. Be generous and give.
Barnabas focused on the positive.
When no one wanted Saul because of his past, Barnabas took him by the hand and encouraged others to accept and forgive him (Acts 9:27; Acts 11:22-26). Barnabas also stood up for Mark when Saul (now called Paul) did not want to give him a second chance (Acts 15:36-39). Barnabas took Mark under his wing and worked with him. Mark went on to write the book of Mark and was later acknowledged by Paul as a help to him, too (2 Timothy 4:11).
Do we refrain from being critical? For example, how about the waitress who may have given us lousy service? This may have been her second job for the day, with children waiting at home for her to care for. It is easy to find mistakes in others, but if we're not careful, we could be the one who crushes seomebody’s spirit and cause them to lose heart.
Do we seek to appreciate? Instead of being jealous, let's seek to appreciate the hard work of others, not taking each other for granted. Let's say thanks often and mean it.
Ask God to give you the talent of an encourager. You have to ask God to fill you with this special talent, that of an encourager.
Let's become a Barnabas, who was deeply loved by many because he knew how to love and encourage. The world is in desperate need for love, so let’s do what we can to spread that love that comes from our Father in Heaven.
God is our greatest encourager. Don’t forget to ask Him for encouragement when you need it.