Are You an Encourager?
Dr. John Freeland

Hebrews 3:13-14 Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  

One of the people I admire most in the book of Acts is Barnabas. “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement.” Long story short: Saul (aka Paul), on his way to Damascus to arrest and kill Christians, had an encounter with Jesus that knocked him off his horse. It transformed his life, and after a period of time preaching Jesus in Damascus, Paul went to Jerusalem and met the apostles. They, like most Christians, were wary of this persecutor turned preacher. Barnabas, however, discerned something in Saul and not only encouraged Saul but also convinced the apostles Saul was a changed man who wanted nothing more than to preach Jesus.

When I read these verses from Hebrews, I cannot help but think about Barnabas the encourager. Barnabas was largely responsible for Saul’s transformation to become Paul, the man we know so well for writing 13 books of the New Testament. What might have happened had Barnabas not been involved with the early church we cannot know. This we know, Barnabas made a difference, a big difference, and 2,000 years later we are blessed because of him.

People like Barnabas make a difference. They are the unsung heroes of the faith. Without the “Barnabases” of the faith, many Christians would struggle far more than they already do. Where are, and who are, the “Barnabases” in the church today, particularly Mt. Bethel? I can call a few by name. Can you? Unfortunately, I fear there are too few.

In Hebrews there seems to be an issue with some Christians being “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” and falling away from the faith. The writer of Hebrews challenges them to encourage each other to contend for the faith and hold firm “to the very end.”

Here’s my challenge to you: be an encourager to people of the Faith. We are all called to trade the pursuit of more for a life worth pursuing in Christ. We need encouragers all the more as our culture moves further and further away from Christ. The number of those who acknowledge God is decreasing rapidly.

The many moving parts in the Body of Christ must faithfully move and grow together under Christ the Head. “Together” ought to jump at you. Together we move. Together we grow. Unfortunately, that is most often the exception, not the rule. Hebrews 3:13 holds the key. “Encourage one another daily.” It is one thing all of us can do.

Dr. Joe Rubino estimates that 85% of people have a low self-esteem. Let me tell it like it is. I struggle with low self-esteem. I cannot remember a time I did not. I need encouragement, but congratulations cause me embarrassment. Some mistake congratulations for encouragement. Congratulations says, “You did a great job.” Encouragement says, “I believe in you. You’ve got what it takes to follow Jesus and live in unity in the Body of Christ. Keep trading the pursuit of more for a life worth pursuing. I’ll walk with you all the way.”

Encouragers build up and help prepare others. In the case of the church, they build up and prepare others to live a transformed life, a life worth pursuing. Encouragers don’t sit on the sidelines and cheer, they walk beside and embolden. Come. Let’s walk together. Let’s trade the pursuit of more for a life worth pursuing — a transformed life in Christ. Let’s walk together, because we should not, and cannot, walk it alone.