In Need of Encouragement by Dale Jenkins
Close your eyes. Imagine a place of pure perfection. A garden full of every good thing. An atmosphere with no pollution and perfect temperatures. A place where God, Himself walked and talked with the people there. A place where everything was beautiful and the water crystal clear and no weeds grew. paradise, Paradise, really. That was the creation God created. And while it sounds like a dream to many, it was reality to Adam. And God, the first Observer stepped in and saw one thing that was not good. The first “not good” thing that was ever spoken of. He decreed: “It is not good for man to be alone.” God recognized it was not good for man to be alone-he said I want you to have people. Total aloneness is still not good. They place the most hardened of criminals in solitary confinement. We need others to challenge us, to cheer us, to comfort us, to confront us with changes we need to make, and to encourage us. Every person in this room tonight needs encouragement and every person in this room can give encouragement. Why then, would we not?
We talk about the church being the best it can be. We talk about it being true to the Scriptures and Faithful in its mission of obeying the Lord. And we are right. But sometimes we miss the thing that is right in front of us. Even what we know we can sometimes miss. We know: The church is not the building, it’s the people. You’ve heard that all your life. But we sometimes use that phrase to put down the concept that the “church building” is the “church.” I want to challenge you to consider this from a positive aspect. The church is the people. The people. So “your church” – it’s those people you worship with each week. That’s the church. And, yes, they, like you, struggle. Yes, sometimes they may not be as kind as we’d wise. Sometimes they may be difficult to deal with. And, they all have baggage. But it is church. God’s Word is that we are to “encourage one another daily…” (Hebrews 3:13). The reason is that every person there needs encouragement. You do too.
1 Corinthians 12 teaches that the church is a body. It is an organism. It is not an institution. It is a living thing. It is not like a club where you pay your dues and can come and go as you please. But it is a body where you are a part. And in a Body, we DEPEND on one another. Each part of a body depends on the other parts of the body. In A Body EVERY MEMBER is IMPORTANT. In a club, if someone doesn’t show up, they just miss. But if your hand doesn’t show up one morning, it’s a really big deal. And a body is to be UNITED. If your two feet are determined to go in different directions, obviously you have a problem. We must work together in this Body.
In the video, we talked about a man who really lived out this concept of being a part of the Body. So much so that the apostles renamed him with a name that fit his character: “And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement)…” (Acts 4:36 NKJV). Review quickly the care that Barnabas had and the contrast it is with those who do not think of encouraging others: Encouragers care more about people than possessions: Barnabas owned some land but there were people in the church who were hurting and in need of help, so he sold the possession and gave the money to help people in need. Someone said that for most people “our possessions possess us.” That is not true of someone who wants to encourage. It is OK to have stuff! But always remember, it is just stuff and people are always more valuable than stuff!
Encouragers care more about people than prestige: I’m positive that Barnabas had a huge reputation in the church. He could have easily leaned into being comfortable with that. But when Saul became a Christian and people were ready to reject the one who had done so much harm to the church prior to becoming a Christian, Barnabas puts that on the line and brings Saul to the apostles *Acts 9:26-29).
Encouragers care more about people than programs: When the hated Gentiles were becoming Christians and persecution was a possibility Barnabas encourages them to be accepted and the church to be united (Acts 11:20-24). Rather than stand in the background and watch Barnabas made an effort.
Encouragers care more about people than their past. Study these passages and discuss why this is true (Acts 16:36-39; 2 Timothy 4:11).
Early on in this study, we mentioned Hebrews 3:13, “encourage one another daily…” but did not quote all of that verse. The whole verse reads: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Notice there is a reason to encourage here. To help people from getting hardened because sin is deceitful. People can get down and discouraged and wonder if it is worth it, or think they cannot go on in faith, or that it is not worth it. They need to be encouraged so they don’t lose their soul! Why not determine to be one who encourages everyone around you for the best? It is not always simple but it is rewarding! No, this is not some little mission of just always being positive, this is about helping people remain true to God, this is a huge assignment. You are up to it. Start now being an encourager, if you do, there will be those in heaven because of your effort.