The Roman author Tertullian (c.160–c. 225), when speaking of the early church, reported that the pagans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!” Clearly the Christians’ concern and care was visible in their actions, attitudes, and words.
One of the early Christians named Joses seems to have had a special talent for understanding and encouraging others, so much so that the believers named him Barnabas.1 He demonstrated his trust and good judgment by being one of the first believers to trust Paul after the latter’s dramatic conversion.2
Jesus Himself was a great example of someone who encouraged others and inspired them to grow. He spoke highly of Nathanael in his presence. (Read more about this in “The VIPs,” on p.15 of this issue.) He gave Simon a new identity as the “Rock,” and despite his impetuosity, weakness, and failures, entrusted him with the mission of taking care of His followers.3
As followers of Jesus, we’re called to try to do as He did, to bring out the good in others, to build them up, to believe in them. Anybody can dispense encouragement. You don’t need money or unusual intellect or special talents—in fact, it’s a gift in its own right.4 You just need a caring and understanding heart.
One biblical metaphor for the Christian life pictures it as a race we’re taking part in.5 No one said running a race—or living a godly life—is easy, but it certainly seems much easier when the fellow runners we pass by are calling out encouragement to us. What a boost that gives! And that shows us what a boost we can be to others when we return the favor!
I hope you’ll find the collection of inspirational articles, quotes, and Bible verses in this Activated issue encouraging and uplifting, and that you’ll be inspired to share a little of the same with those around you.