But in the chaos of the battle, we can easily wound each other with critical friendly fire and forget that encouragement is also necessary for spiritual survival.
Encouragement Is Spiritual Warfare
Encouragement is spiritual warfare. If we’re going to encourage anyone, we will have to fight Satan and our own sin to do it.
The devil is constantly trying to discourage us. He’s the “the accuser of [the] brothers … who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10)!
And our sin nature wants to discourage others. It desires self-exaltation more than anything. So it relishes focusing on others’ weaknesses and sins out of arrogance or envy. Pride is why so much of what we think or say or interpret or hear about others is negative and uncharitably critical.
But the “God of encouragement” (Romans 15:5). And when we have hope, we will have courage.
A Call for Barnabas People
Joseph was called Barnabas most likely because he had an eye trained to see the grace of God in whatever happened. No matter what theological controversy or persecution or financial crisis or criticism or failure, Barnabas had a resilient hope in God. When some threat discouraged his friends, he would consistently remind them of God’s promises in such a contagiously hopeful way that their courage would revive.
And that’s what we want to be like. We need to be Barnabas people.