The least costly thing we can be generous with is encouragement, yet it affects the most remarkable change.
When most people think of generosity, their first thought revolves around giving money or things. The calling is not limited to loving others more than objects. Let’s explore one man who was known for his generous words.
Barnabas: More Than a Field
This week’s text highlights Barnabas. Just before that, we witnessed the peak of generosity. A veritable Christian utopia is unfolding due to the kindness and generosity of everyone there, ensuring that there was not a needy person among them. Barnabas, we see, is no exception. He sold a field and laid the proceeds at the feet of the apostles. A field wouldn’t have represented just a space. It meant a livelihood, income, wealth, family heritage, and comfort. It wasn’t just giving up the field’s current value for the sake of all in the community but also the importance of what it could yield. Yet even this physical generosity (which was great) did not define Barnabas to the others. His encouragement marked him.
The Power of Encouragement
Today, we most readily track the impact of finances. We see a dollar amount and immediately think, “What could I do with all that money?” Yet we often fail to see the value of a kind word. “‘A good man,’ says Luke, ‘full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’ (Acts 11:24), and on at least four occasions, his warm-heartedness, spiritual insights, and universal respect for him had momentous results.” It was Barnabas who endeared Paul to the other apostles upon his conversion. It was Barnabas who brought Paul to the Gentiles in Antioch. It was Barnabas who helped Paul to establish churches throughout Asia Minor. And it was Barnabas who insisted on supporting Mark, who had previously abandoned their efforts, to significant effect (New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed., s.v. “Barnabas” [Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996], 123).
Regularly being liberal with kindness to others is part of practicing generosity and prepares our hearts for giving to the missions ministry in Tixtla de Guerrero, Mexico.
Barnabas changed thousands of lives by simply being generous with his encouragement. His choice to be generous with encouragement prevented him from giving up on people, even when he might be the only one hanging in. By choosing to see the best in people when everyone else either refused to or was unable to do so, Barnabas changed the course of Christian history.
The Cost of Encouragement
Here’s the significant part: Barnabas’s encouragement was the least costly thing he was generous with. He gave up land, time, and livelihood, but his encouragement at no personal cost affected the most remarkable change. Why are we often so tight-lipped with kind words for others? Why do we feel that others should have to earn our praise? What does it cost us to lift another person, even if they don’t deserve it?
The Commandment of Encouragement
Furthermore, encouragement is a commandment. First, Thessalonians 5:11 instructs us to lift one another. If that’s not enough, aren’t we also called to be as Jesus was? He ministered to the morally questionable woman at the well and saw her as more than her town did. He found her worthy of life and forgiveness (John 4). He looked up in the tree, saw greedy Zacchaeus, and chose to dine with him. In these instances (Luke 19:1–10), Jesus’s kindness preceded the change that would make these people “worthy” of encouragement. Here is the Jesus we are called to become like.
Max Lucado, a pastor and an author of many best-selling Christian books, also wrote a short children’s story entitled You Are Special. It is a story of how we are marked by the thoughts of others, often to a more negative effect than positive. The others in the town left marks on the main character that wouldn’t come off until the story’s subject met his Maker, who showed him who he was and who he had been made to be. The encouragement of the Maker undid all the wrongs forced upon him previously. We are to be the extension of the Maker in the lives of all those around us. It costs us nothing to be generous with our words, and it could cost others everything if we are not.
So, how can being generous with our words impact the missions ministry in Tixtla de Guerrero, Mexico? The answer lies in the fact that generosity begets generosity. When we practice being generous with our words and encouragement towards others, we are cultivating a heart of generosity that will overflow into other areas of our lives, including our giving to missions and charitable organizations. We will be more willing to give our time, resources, and finances when we have already practiced generosity in our daily lives.
In addition, our words have the power to impact and inspire others. When we encourage someone, we are not just lifting them up but also affirming their worth and value as a person. An affirmation like this can have a ripple effect, as that person may go on to encourage others and spread positivity and kindness throughout their spheres of influence. This positive spirit can help create a culture of generosity and kindness that will benefit the missions ministry in Tixtla de Guerrero and the world.
Let us follow the example of Barnabas and be generous with our words of encouragement toward others. By doing so, we will be cultivating a heart of generosity that will impact our personal lives and those around us. On May 14th we will have a special offering that will be directed to the missions ministry in Tixtla de Guerrero, Mexico. Our goal is to raise up $2000 and therefor ask you to pray about what God is calling you to give towards this ministry. Remember, encouragement is a commandment, and it costs us nothing to be generous with our words, but it could cost others everything if we are not.