Posted by: Matt Rice | 02/04/2008


I was at church one Sunday several years ago and a man came up to me, shook my hand, and told me, “Matt your getting fat.” I am not sure how I was supposed to respond to such a nicety but I choose to take the high road and not respond with a similar greeting……however, I have to admit I talked about him under my breath and behind his back.

The world and the church are equally full of people that tear you down with negativity. I believe they do so to make themselves look better. I mean brothers put down sisters, grandma’s nag grandpa’s, and husbands and wives throw verbal grenades like it is WWIII…..all in the name of Jesus right?

Barnabas is known as the “Son of Encouragement.” There is no wonder why Paul wanted him on his missionary journeys. He partnered with him to see the Gospel advance. Acts 13 and 14 are great pictures of how God used Barnabas to encourage Paul in his calling to spread the Gospel.

Encouragement is a spiritual gift. I was at a youth function once and one of the youth proclaimed after taking a spiritual gift test, “I have the spiritual gift of extortion.”  I said no, it is exhortation, which means to encourage someone not steal their money. Even if you don’t have the gift you can still encourage people in their walk with Christ, in their marriage, in school, or just in life. Too many people (in and out of the church) use their tongue to tear down their kids, spouse, pastor, teacher, parent, or friend.

Here’s my question and challenge: Are you a Barnabas or a Barabbas? (Criminal, robber according to the gospels) I praise God for people like Ray Hardee who is the greatest encouragers I know. I praise God for my wife who has learned to be a Barnabas.

Who are you? Don’t tear someone down. Use what God has given you to build them up in the faith. I have good news for you…YOU CAN BECAUSE GOD IS!


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