THE GRACIOUS VIRTUE OF ENCOURAGING OTHERS IN NEED
- THE GRACIOUS VIRTUE OF ENCOURAGING OTHERS IN NEED
Habitually encouraging others in need is a rare Christian virtue.
Believers ought to strive for the divine grace of 'encouragement'
suppliantly. In the book of Acts, Barnabas stands out in bold relief
as one endowed with the gift of encouragement. He has to be the
believers' role model. Barnabas' real name is "Joseph"; he is a
"Levite and a native of Cyprus." (Acts 4:36). He is "a good man,
full of the Holy Spirit and of faith." (Acts 11:24). Apostles take note of Joseph's unfailingly obliging nature, and give him the nickname,'Barnabas', which means 'Son of encouragement'.
From the events in the life of Barnabas recorded in the book of Acts,
we may humbly learn how to encourage others and be friends in
their hour of need.
1. The early Church is in financial straits. Barnabas recognizes the problem. He does not have ready cash to help. Unhesitatingly, he sells his land, brings the money and lays it at the apostles' feet.
That is eloquent proof of his sound stewardship. Likewise, we too
must learn practicing stewardship to help out and encourage others
2. In Acts 9 we read of Saul's encounter with the Lord on his way to
Damascus and his consequent conversion. Later, he returns to
Jerusalem to join the disciples, but faces ostracism. All are scared
of him, for they do not believe that he is a disciple. Lonely at heart, Saul feels utterly dejected at his being unwelcome. But Barnabas rises to the occasion. He befriends Saul, and makes him feel at home with reassuring warmth and affection. He brings Saul to the apostles, and declares to them how on the road he has seen the
Lord, Who speaks to him; and how at Damascus he has preached
boldly in the name of Christ Jesus. (Acts 9:26-27). If we are
accustomed to avoiding strangers awkwardly, we need to learn from
the example set by Barnabas so that we may encourage them by
extending our friendship, co-operation and support.
3. A great number of Greeks at Antioch respond to the preaching
of the Gospel by turning to the Lord. When this news reaches the
church at Jerusalem, they send Barnabas to Antioch. On arrival at
Antioch, he witnesses the grace of God at work. He rejoices over
it, and exhorts "them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose." (Acts 11:22-23). He joins forces with them, and
becomes an ACTIVE PARTNER in the ministry.
Like Barnabas we too must seek common ground with those
professing same faith, and forge unity by BUILDING BRIDGES.
The two factions in our Church and the Malankara Catholic Rite
will then be able to sink differences, and swim together bringing
glory to God as ONE HOLY CATHOLIC APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
4. Recognizing that Saul has the potential to provide effective
spiritual leadership to the ministry at Antioch, Barnabas travels on
HIS OWN to Tarsus. He locates Saul, and brings him to Antioch.
In the course of one (1) year, the ministry expands by leaps and
bounds while Saul gains in stature from being a fledgling to a fully-
fledged pastor and teacher. In all these, as the encourager,
Barnabas is the QUIET FACILITATOR. If only our Church had more
clergymen, nuns and lay members as 'encouragers and facilitators',
its future would be much brighter than what it would otherwise be.
5. Paul is about to set out on his second (2nd) missionary journey
together with Barnabas. There arises a sharp contention between
the two on account of John called Mark, who has deserted them at
Pamphylia during their first (1st) journey, and returned home.
Barnabas wants to take Mark with them, but Paul vehemently
dissents. And they go their separate ways, Paul taking Silas and
Barnabas taking Mark with him. (Acts 15:36-41). While Paul
begrudges Mark for his quitting, Barnabas graciously condones it
with a view to rehabilitating Mark. What Barnabas accomplishes by
that noble act is the MENDING OF A BROKEN RELATIONSHIP for
the glory of God. I wish, the feuding factions in our Church imbibed
the spirit of reconciliation displayed by Barnabas.
6. It is especially noteworthy that Paul writes in 2 Tim. 4:11, "Get
Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me."
Paul is able to request so, as a beneficiary because of Barnabas, the
BENEFACTOR, whose timely charitable act of forgiveness retains
Mark in the Lord's active service.
In conclusion, PRICELESS is the gift of encouragement, and
BLESSED are those who have the GRACE to receive it.
Nakkolackal V. L. Eapen,
Austin, TX. (ID. No. 4160)