I talked in the last post about how the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete, our encourager, advocate, comforter. As I continued my search through scripture on that word, I realized that it was used in another key passage in scripture…
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”)…
Barnabas, the son of encouragement. The word encouragement here is parakletos, a derivative of Paraclete. Here is a person, an early church father, nicknamed the Encourager. Called by the same terms as the Holy Spirit.
Finding this made me think. What is our role as believers when it comes to encouragement? We humans are created with an insatiable thirst for encouragement. We have an indwelling God who is our full time encouraging, and yet we still hunger for affirmation. How do we as brothers and sisters in Christ, live into this space?
Something started pinging in the back of my brain… Romans 12, one of my favorite passages…
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.
Encouragement is a spiritual gift. Something God values enough to list in one of the three main spiritual gifts passages in the New Testament. This is clearly something important to Him, something He desires to see happening in his kingdom?
So why don’t we experience this more? Why does the modern church have a reputation for being judgmental and harsh, not a place of encouragement and solace? Where are the sermons preached, the classes taught on how to encourage others?
And, if we Christians have an indwelling Paraclete, why aren’t we using that gift of encouragement for those who do not; unbelievers who are so very thirsty for words of truth and affirmation?
I don’t know. But this I do know. When I take time to intentionally affirm others, I am encouraged in the process. When parents take time to formally bless their children, those children begin to view their lives as a legacy ad not just a passing of time. Encouragement matters. It is powerful in a way that defies logic.
And I, for one, am going to try to intentionally engage in acts of radical encouragement. When my life is over, may I be called a Daughter of Encouragement. Care to join me?