How To Love

The key is encouragement.

Acts 4:32-37 (NIV)

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Barnabas breaks onto the scene with a noteworthy act of generosity. His nickname (which means “son of encouragement”) is well deserved. In Chapter 9, Barnabas trusts Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus and thus becomes Paul’s right-hand man.

But in Chapter 15, Barnabas trusts Mark while Paul won’t, and they separate. Barnabas teams up with Mark while Paul teams up with Silas. Given the backstory, you’d think Paul would let go of his (well founded) concerns about Mark and just go along with Barnabas, but Acts is full of surprising twists.

Notice that Barnabas does the same thing with his life that he did with his field. From a secular point of view, he looks like a risk taker.

But from a Christian point of view, he’s an encourager.

Encouragement is love in action. As Olaf says in the movie Frozen, “Love is putting someone else's needs before yours.” Whether you’re saving someone’s life or just feeding them, it invariably comes across as encouraging.

Christ commands us to love people. Encouragement is the key. Everyone needs encouragement, but some more than others. Who can you encourage?

You may not be called to encourage the person who needs it most, but the one you’re best positioned to help. Encouragement shouldn’t be a one-off project anyway; it should be a lifestyle. There are some great resources on how to be a better encourager. My favorite is Encouragement: The Key to Caring by Larry Crabb and Dan Allender.

Ask the Lord to show you how to be a better encourager. Some folks just need a warm touch or a kind word; others have physical challenges that need addressing.

Figure out how to help them. Strategize, then execute. Warm their hearts and make them strong.

Then they can be encouragers too.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.