Discouragement is everywhere in a broken, fallen world like ours. One way Satan spreads discouragement is through the pride in us that focuses on others’ weaknesses and flaws. But God has given us a weapon against the darkness: encouragement, an infusion of hope we bring one another.
His name was Joseph. But he “was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)” (Acts 4:36). Joseph. Barnabas. I guess that would make him “Joe Encouragement.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be such an encouraging person that your friends simply call you Encouragement?
Courage is the resolve to face a fearful threat. And courage is fueled by hope — a hope in something stronger than what we fear.
Discouragement sets in when our hope leaks. We begin to cower before our fear. When this happens, and it happens often, we need an infusion of hope. That’s what encouragement is. Barnabas went around giving people hope-infusions, which helped them keep fighting the fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).
We need Barnabas people. We need to be a Barnabas.
A Deluge of Discouragement
We live in a deluge of discouragement. Criticism, contempt, critique, and correction. It’s the native language of our fallen world. These things roll easily off the human tongue far more than affirmation and encouragement, because the fallen human heart has an abundance of pride (Matthew 12:34).
We human beings are by sinful nature viciously critical of one another. We’ve even made “critic” a profession. The vast majority of the analyses of people, ideas, organizations, movements, and governments we hear, whether in the press, on blogs, or at the table next to us, are negative. (Brace yourself for another presidential election cycle.) There are, of course, things that legitimately need critique and correction. But the over-abundance of negativity is largely due to the fact that the prideful eye of the fallen human heart is trained to see others’ weaknesses, foibles, mistakes, and sins. It looks for them and relishes in them. It even sees ones that aren’t there. Why are we like this?