27 Oct Choosing Encouragement
Read Acts 13:1-12
Thought for the Day: I can choose to encourage others.
When I was a freshman in college, I became friends with an upperclassman named Chris. At times when I found myself struggling or frustrated, Chris was right there as a positive presence. When I was discouraged, he would listen and then ask if I wanted to go play music with him in the chapel. When I was lonely, we would get food together and then gather a group to watch a foreign film or go on a hike. The more I got to know Chris, the more I saw that he lived out his faith in Jesus by encouraging his friends. He didn’t try to fix anyone. Instead, he simply listened, stayed positive, and valued bringing all of his friends together.
In the days of the Early Church (documented in the Book of Acts), the believers took Jesus’ teachings and established the Church from the ground up. As a community, their focus was on allowing Christ’s teaching and mission to permeate their day-to-day lives. In Acts 4, we read about a man named Joseph who was so committed that he was given a new name by his fellow believers. They called him Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). When it came time for the Apostle Paul to begin his missionary journeys, the leaders at Antioch gathered to worship and pray: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Just as God had directly called Paul to plant ministries throughout the world, the Holy Spirit selected an encourager for Paul. Throughout his travels, Paul relied on Barnabas as a steady support of positivity and focus. Even at the times when they experienced setbacks, Barnabas chose encouragement.
As we go through our lives, each of us is called to be a Barnabas – an encourager! Too often, we may find ourselves becoming sons and daughters of criticism or complaining. We may find ourselves focusing on negatives and obsessing over what is wrong with our current circumstances. We may focus on trying to change the unchangeable rather than accepting life on life’s terms. Even at times when this is the case, today is a great day to pause and prayerfully reflect on our attitude and mindset. When we pause, we see that the world doesn’t need one more critic or complainer. Instead, each of us is called to be a Barnabas!
Pastor David (and Stan)