Back In the Ring For Another Round
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If you've ever watched a boxing match, if you've ever been around a "Rocky" movie, then you know the scene. Boxer-Man has been punched and pounded and bruised for several rounds. The bell rings, he staggers to his corner, his attendants immediately start working on him. They give him something to drink, they help him get a quick breather, and they give him a big pep talk. I don't know what they tell Boxer-Man, but I'm sure it's good stuff. What I do know is whatever they tell him works. Even though he's banged up, he gets back into the ring for another round!
We live in a world where everybody is taking their blows. People you know often feel beat up, punched around, and even ready to go down for the count. What may keep them from giving up is someone in their corner who's giving them what they need to go for another round. I hope that someone is you.
We've got a stellar example of that in our word for today from the Word of God. In Acts 4:36, we're introduced to "Joseph...whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)." Something about this man made the early Christian leaders think "encouragement." I wonder if that's what people think when they see you coming. "Here comes encouragement."
All through his appearances in the Book of Acts, Barnabas shows us what an encourager looks like. In Acts 9, for example, when none of the disciples wanted anything to do with Saul of Tarsus after he met Christ, (I mean, they were afraid he was still hunting Christians.) Barnabas was the one who brought him to them and vouched for him. A Barnabas believes in a person when no one else will. I hope that's you.
In Acts 11, when God started working among the despised Gentiles, it says the church leaders in Jerusalem "sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord" (Acts 11:23-24). Here's another face of the encourager. He looks for what God is doing in someone's life and he fans the flame.
Now lest you think this mission of encouragement is just for a gifted elite like Barnabas, don't forget that God says to all of us, "Encourage one another daily" (Hebrews 3:13). So how are you doing? Do you look for the things a person is doing right? Do you thank them for it? Do you make a person feel really important when they're with you, or like they're keeping you from something more important? Do you listen for their heart, not just their words? Do you look for what God seems to be doing in their life and then you affirm it to them? Do you look for their strong points and tell them what you see? By the way, this ministry of encouragement is one anyone can have and it may be just what you need to get you out of your own pit of self-focus and self-pity. And your ministry of encouragement begins first with your very own family. They need it the most, and you're in a unique position to give it to them.
I love that word "encourage." When you do it, you literally put "courage in" to that person. Someone who may be more battered than you know, closer to going down or giving up than you could imagine. You never know when your encouragement might literally be the difference in that person's life. When you're bruised and when you're hurting, the difference very well may be the person in your corner who gets back in the ring for another round.
Learn three secrets to loving what you do from Ron Hutchcraft's message, "How to Love Your Job No Matter What." This complimentary CD provides new perspective on how your boss, your pay, and your hard work can help you love your job.