Chris' Corner - April 19, 2020
The root word in scripture for encourage or encouragement means to strengthen or be courageous. It's used at least twice in the life of Hezekiah, one of the great kings of Judah.
In the first month of his reign, Hezekiah ordered the temple to be cleaned up so preparations could be made to reinstate God's ordinance of the Passover. Because service of the temple had long been neglected, many of the priests had not purified themselves and were not ready to perform their duties. The Levites (helpers in the temple services) were better prepared than the priest. This was discouraging.
King Hezekiah stepped in with words of comfort and exhortation. "…And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the LORD; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers" (2 Chronicles 30:22).
Hezekiah was anointed king just a few short years after the fall of Israel, sister nation to Judah. The king of Assyria was still in a conquering mood. He came down to make war against Jerusalem. Hezekiah's faith was strong, and God was with him as he prepared the city for battle.
In 2 Chronicles 32:5, first "He strengthened himself..." Then in the next few verses, .he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement, saying, "Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles." And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah."
What a great leader! Not just for being faithful to God and His law, but for encouraging his people to trust in the Lord as he did.
We need those who encourage, who comfort and console, those who take the time to strengthen the hearts of God's people to stay strong and courageous.
One of the greatest characters of the New Testament was Barnabas. Luke gives a description of him in Acts 4:34-37. This was during the days of the early church when so many stayed in Jerusalem rather than returning to their homes. It created a financial burden for the church.
Luke recorded, "Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet."
The focus for me is not that Joses sold land and gave the money to the apostles to help with the needs of Christians in Jerusalem, but on the apostles calling him, Barnabas, "Son of Encouragement” (“consolation" KJV) This description is seen very vividly in his bringing Saul (Paul) before the apostles to validate Saul's apostleship (Acts 9:26-28) and bring him into fellowship with the others in Jerusalem.
Some years later, as the church grew with both Jews and Gentiles in the church at Antioch, Luke wrote, "Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord" (Acts 11:21-23).
We need more folks like Hezekiah and Barnabas. We need to be those who are like Hezekiah and Barnabas. What a blessing it is to hear positive, uplifting messages of hope, courage, strength, and motivation to greater works. What a blessing it is the be God's instrument of consolation and encouragement. Paul said we should, “...exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today"...and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works...” (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24). If this doesn't describe us, we need to do some soul-searching.
There's too much discouragement, doubt, and fear. This is the work of the devil. Every Christian needs encouragement to grow, serve, and persevere. Every one of us should spend more time to comfort, exhort, strengthen our brethren in our journey together toward heaven.
In speaking to neighboring congregations, Paul said, "that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ" (Colossians 2:2).