Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Sun" of Encouragement?

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. -Proverbs 3:27

Have you ever wondered what it is God has called you to do? Especially within the context of the church? Not everyone is called to be a pastor or an elder or a teacher. So what, exactly, is the Christian to do?

John Milton, in reflecting on his blindness, wrote, "They also serve who only stand and wait."

I've been thinking about Barnabas.

Barnabas means "son of encouragement." Since the word "courage" come from the Latin "cor," meaning heart, I guess you could say that to en-courage someone is to give them heart.

Would you say there's a big need for that in the Church? How would I go about that, do you suppose?

Getting back to Barnabas. As nearly as I can recall, not a single word of his is recorded in scripture. But looking at the many times he is mentioned in the book of Acts, it seems as though there would never have been a Paul, had there not been a Barnabas.

He came alongside Paul in his early Christian life, spoke on his behalf, and then went to Tarsus to seek him out, in effect setting him on his path as missionary to the Gentiles. In short, he loved Paul.

It's a sign that we are Christ's, when we love the brethren (and the sistern!) . To be a ray of hope in the midst of gloom and depression. To shine a little light into the midst of confusion. To reflect the light of the love of Jesus.

The proverb quoted implies an expenditure of some sort on our part. That I should extend myself and reach out in some way. Would an investment in love yield far more valuable returns than an investment in money? 

As you and I seek to serve the God who has given us everything, can it be that His service could consist of something so simple as a listening ear or shared insight?

"...stand and wait." Was Milton speaking of mere inactivity? Or does "to wait" imply an availability and a willingness to serve?

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these my brothers, you did for me. -Matthew 25:40b


  1. Gaye Lynn and I were talking just yesterday about how every member of the church body contributes in some way to the health and vitality of the church. Sometimes, we feel like we don't do anything "big" and so our ministry isn't very important - but that is so wrong!

    I commented to one of our young mothers recently how much I appreciated having her kids in church for worship on Sunday morning - I'm sure it felt more like a wrestling match for her than like a service to the body of Christ. But it blesses me so very much to hear the voices and tumblings of our little ones - they are so important to Jesus and to all of us at Grace!

    I think, too, that there is often a temptation to wait for someone else to take the first step in developing deeper relationships and in presenting opportunities for service. Am learning - rather late in life! - that God has called me (and each of us) to initiate those relationships, even if it feels awkward or uncomfortable for this introverted, quiet woman. And that instead of waiting to be asked to serve, I need to find opportunities and act on them. Here am I - send me!

  2. I've heard it said: "If you want to have a friend, be a friend." That is the coolest thing about this kind of ministry. Whatever we give returns to us multiplied. There is nothing better (besides a closer relationship with Jesus) than to have a dear Christian friend. Or a whole bunch of 'em!!