A NAME FOR ENCOURAGEMENT
What kind of name do you have? As I was growing up, my mother never ceased to emphasize the importance of having a good name, a good reputation. Of course, a good name in some circles leads to a bad name in others. Think of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. The reputation of each of them was good or bad, depending upon the circle you were in.
The biblical figure Barnabas, the sometimes companion of the Apostle Paul, had a name that matched his reputation. His name means “son of encouragement.” What a wonderful label to wear! Barnabas encouraged the disciple Mark at a time when Paul was ready to write him off as undependable. Barnabas took Mark with him on a mission trip and helped strengthen his faith (Acts 15:36-41).
There is much to admire about the Apostle Paul. But I think it might be better to be known as a son or daughter of encouragement who continues to support and love imperfect people than to have a reputation for being judgemental and censorious as Paul was toward Mark. Firmness is sometimes necessary. But encouragement is essential for joy and spiritual growth.
The great German Enlightenment intellectual Goethe once said, “Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” Most of us know this from experience. A word of encouragement lifts our spirits and impels us to do more good. “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual of building” (Romans 14:19). To be known as a congregation of encouragers would certainly be a reputation for us as individuals and as a church to cherish.
Grace & Peace,