Have you ever had a nickname, or been called a pet name by family or friends? Sometimes it can simply be a shortened version of your name, or perhaps it’s a name that describes your personality or aspects of your character.     


In Acts 4 we read of a man called Joseph who had a nickname. The apostles called him Barnabas which means “son of encouragement.” How good would it be to be so known for encouraging others that you are called “Barnabas” by all who know you?


Encouragement is something we all need—and it’s so much greater and deeper than just having our self-esteem boosted by hearing nice things said about ourselves. It’s more than the coach telling the football players, “You can do it.” I remember hearing a preacher describe it as “oxygen for our soul.” It’s vital!                                                                                                                                 


The biblical idea of encouragement is to comfort, exhort, urge, and strengthen. How much do each of us need that deep, lasting, spiritual spurring on; the strengthening of words of truth and support, confidence and hope, given by those who walk alongside us on our journey of faith. 


In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian believers, the context in which he calls them to be encouragers of one another, is that of the Lord’s return, or, the Day of the Lord, as he calls it here. This is a timely message for us too, so we would do well to listen to Paul’s exhortation and advice! He begins by declaring that Jesus is coming back, and, although we don’t know when, we need not concern ourselves or be preoccupied with dates and times but are to be prepared and ready.                   


So, how can we encourage one another to live ready?


Paul tells us of our identity: we are no longer what we once were, but we are “of light, of the day.” Paul also exhorted the Ephesian believers in this same way when he wrote, “You were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light—for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth—trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8–10). 


Our world is a dark place, spiritually and morally, but we are called to encourage each other to live in contrast, in the light of God’s goodness and truth, shining the light of Christ as we share the hope we have in Him. 


In our preparation for Jesus’ return, we are to be awake and alert, sensible and serious about living lives that reflect our coming King. This world can be a hard place in which to live, so we need protection against the enemy. Therefore, Paul urges us to be equipped with the armor God provides for His people. In Ephesians 6, Paul details the full armor that we should be putting on daily, but for now, he just refers to the breastplate and the helmet.                                                                                                                                                                                   


The breastplate covers the vital organs—it’s a reminder of the need to guard our hearts, being equipped with faith, as we believe and stand on truth and the promises of God, and His love both for us and for those living in darkness who do not yet know Jesus as Savior and Lord.   


We are also to put on the helmet that is our hope for salvation, past, present, and future! Our minds come under such attack from the fiery darts of Satan, the prowling lion, the father of lies and the accuser of God’s people. It is crucial to have the helmet of salvation to protect our minds against such real and personal attacks.     


The concept of wearing armor brings to mind the image of a soldier who is part of an army. When Paul writes about encouraging and building up, it’s in the context of community. Isn’t it so good to know that when we are part of God’s family He gives us sisters and brothers so we do not face the battles of this world alone? There is deep encouragement to be found in the assurance that God gives us His Spirit and His people to walk through the life of faith together: through the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the mountain top experiences, and the dark valleys of trial and suffering, we journey with one another. 


Who are you thankful for today? Who has been a “Barnabas” for you in your darkest moments, or has celebrated the good times, rejoicing with you? Why not take a few minutes to thank God for them, maybe even send a text or a card to say what a blessing they are?       


Or, perhaps, is God asking you to support, comfort, encourage, and shine His light and goodness into someone’s life right now? 


Jesus is coming back, and until that day, we are called to:

Encourage one another: Speak hope and truth!                                                                                                                                    

Live as children of light in this dark world: Shine!                                                                                            

Guard our hearts and minds: Put on the armor!                                                                                                                       

Spur one another on towards holiness and godliness: Build each other up!                                                                    

Keep looking up, with confidence and hope: Fix your eyes on Jesus, He is coming soon!


Amen. Come, Lord Jesus, come.


Have you heard? Our The God Who Restores Bible study is available to order! 

Join us this Advent Season as we dive into God’s Word and take time to pause and reflect on what we are truly waiting for: the return of Christ! Join us as we focus on setting aside the expectations of the world and focusing on the joy and hope we have in Jesus. 

Click the image below to find out more!

100% of the proceeds from your order go straight back to the ministry, helping us fight biblical illiteracy around the world and equip women with God’s Word in 40+ languages. 

Thank YOU for your investment and support! 

Read more about our mission and the languages we reach here.

More from Love God Greatly:


Katie Shott

Katie Shott

Katie Shott loves Jesus, loves people, and loves life! Born and bred in Northern Ireland, she lives in Belfast with her amazing husband, Andrew, where they are both involved in serving God in their local church and passionate about global missions. Katie’s heart is for our persecuted brothers and sisters across the world and she is constantly challenged by their courage and faith as they follow Jesus, whatever the cost. Katie loves to laugh and chat over coffee with friends; she knows all the best coffee shops in Northern Ireland, and if you ever come to visit her beautiful ‘wee’ country, she promises to take you to some!

Grab a journal, build a community,
change women's lives.

Shop our Bible study for women, Triumph Over Trials: 1 & 2 Peter!

Thanks! Make sure you like our Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest pages - and let us know if you'd like to get involved with sharing God's Word with women globally!

Pin It on Pinterest