Bible Study

Is Encouragement More Than Just Kind Words?

If we are honest, we all like kind words and sometimes that is enough – a little encouragement can lift someone up and make a difference, even change their day for the better. But there are also times when words alone are not enough to encourage or make a difference, there is a need for practical help and we may be just the one who is able to give it!

Barnabas, son of encouragement

In the early church the apostles recognised the gift of encouragement in Joseph of Cyprus. He was a Levite who had converted to be a follower of Jesus Christ, who was living in Jerusalem and a member of the early church. This man was such an example of someone with the gift of encouragement that the apostles changed his name, I suppose we would say they gave him a ‘nickname’, a name that they felt described him perfectly – Barnabas which means ‘son of encouragement’.

At this time in the early church, we are told that no-one was in need as ‘the believers shared all that they had.’ There was such unity among them that those who had land or property sold what they had and brought the money to the apostles to be shared out to those in need. Barnabas sold a field that he owned and brought all the money to the apostles laying it at their feet. This was a symbolic act of reverence, showing his respect for their authority and his trust in them, to act fairly and to care for those in need.

His gift was also a declaration of faith and trust in God to provide for all his needs in the future. The field may well have been his financial security, set aside for his old age as his pension pot! He showed his full commitment to God by what he did. His love and trust in God were greater than his love of money and possessions.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5
Is encouragement more than just kind words?

Characteristics of Barnabas

This wholehearted giving and trust in God, is something to reflect on. To keep our lives free of ‘the love of money’ may be more of a challenge today as society has become so much more materialistic. And the balance of being a good steward with planning and preparing, when the future is becoming more uncertain means that many are having to make difficult adjustments. God, however, does not change, He is still the One who provides for all our needs!


Whether we have a natural gifting as an encourager or not, we can all be challenged to develop the gift of encouragement. This story of Barnabas’ generosity in Acts 4, is a testimony about the gift of giving and giving generously, but it is also our introduction to the character of Barnabas. I do not think it is coincidental that the one who is held up as an example of being a great encourager, by his actions, teaches us about giving!

  • True encouragement is a practical action, which always has a cost.
  • True encouragement overflows, into all the other gifts – prophecy, service, teaching, giving, leading, and even mercy.
  • True encouragement is all about giving generously. In fact –

True encouragement flows with generosity!


Barnabas responded to a need that he saw right in front of him, and revealed what was in his heart – obedience, generosity and trust in God. Today, because of the media, we are often bombarded with ‘need’ and the danger is that we can become hardhearted, and we can switch off to responding. But God may touch our hearts and test us in that way, to give to a local cause, a need that develops in our own community, or even further afield. It might not be a grand gesture that is needed, just a regular commitment, to stretch ourselves and give over and above what we might feel is required of us, so that we bless and encourage someone else’s ministry….

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

God will not ask us to give what we have not got, only what we already have in our hand, and as we prove faithful in small ways He will open further opportunities for us.

Three ways how Barnabas’ act of generosity was also a practical act of encouragement:

  1. Barnabas encouraged the apostles by his obedience to their teaching.
  2. His generous giving encouraged those who were in need.
  3. The practical outworking of God’s love encouraged the unity among all the believers – “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)


Barnabas did not start out as an evangelist or a missionary – but that was what he became! He started with a servant heart, willing to respond to the immediate need before him. And he went on from strength to strength, at each step trusting in the Lord and encouraging others. God blessed him and multiplied his ministry.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”

Ecclesiastes 11:1

To hold onto the things of this world lightly and trust in God for our future is a challenge for us all. Are we willing to really encourage, to help, assist, and lift others up, even if it is at great cost, risk, or inconvenience to ourselves?


Lord, may Your grace give hope for the future, encouraging and strengthening in every good deed and word – all for God’s praise and glory! Amen.

33 thoughts on “Is Encouragement More Than Just Kind Words?”

  1. You’re right that encouragement isn’t just about words. It often includes a more tangible act as well. Thanks for reminding me of this today. It’s been such a crazy year that my ways to encourage others seem limited, but there are always multiple ways when God is involved!

  2. I agree–kind words are wonderful, but sometimes God wants us to take another step. I was just reading an article about how easy it is to promote we “love the world” or mankind in a big way–but then we neglect those ways right in front of us.

  3. Yes, Sharon we absolutely need to be seeking God’s will in our giving & sharing at this time.

    You’re most welcome to join me in a cuppa at Tea With Jennifer,
    Bless you,

  4. Thank you for describing how encouragement can be more than kind words. I love the verse from Acts: “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.” What a statement about how we should live our lives today – for each other.

  5. This is such a good post. Barnabas >>> “He started with a servant heart, willing to respond to the immediate need before him, and he went on from strength to strength.” Praying I can do the same right where I am.

  6. This is a great reminder not just to encourage through our words but through our actions too. It really makes a big impact when we do.

  7. This is something that has been on my heart and I’ve really had a focus on recently…
    A recent example is when a friend (with 7 kids: 3 biological, 3 adopted at different times from foster care, 1 foster care baby) came down with COVID. I sprang to action to 1) round up as many prayer warriors as I could and 2) to prepare a bunch of food for the family. I didn’t really have the time for all the extra cooking and delivering the boxes out to their new home 20’ish minutes away (one direction) and our grocery budget did in no way allow for this – but my husband and I gave it to God knowing that this was HIS will for stretching my time and blowing our grocery budget. We have to believe that He is faithful to provide all our needs and will ensure that giving beyond what our worldly view might deem reasonable will not drag us under but rather we will be rewarded greatly for being obedient.
    Thank you for this beautiful post – we need our social media feeds flooded with encouragement and calls to action just like this!

  8. They say that “talk is cheap.” It is great to speak words that build others up with encouragement, but if you want to really see someone’s priorities, just take a peak into their checkbook or bank statement. We need to make an impact with our time, talent, and treasure. Great reminder!
    Bev xx

  9. We had an I tersti g discussion in Biblr study about the difference between encouragement and flattery! And how to be encouraging while also discerning and truthful when we must shed light on a difficult situation. A good word here! Blessings!

    1. That is such a good point, flattery does not build up our faith and sometimes the truly encouraging words may not always be easy to here….Thank you for responding 🙂

  10. There is a word in Hebrew…chesed. It is loving kindness and it can be seen quite often in reference to the Lord’s love for us. But one of the things that characterizes chesed is showing loving kindness when there is no expectation of anything in return. One of the greatest acts of chesed in Judaism is caring for a corpse upon death because a corpse can do nothing in return. Many times we offer encouragement or give to people because it makes US feel good. I hope we can all develop the trait of chesed and give because He commands us to care for others, not because we feel we have to or expect accolades or recognition. Great post!! Thank you for sharing it!

    1. That was so interesting, I had read of the Hebrew word ‘chesed’ as sometimes it is translated mercy and sometimes loving-kindness – but I had not realised that depth of meaning of ‘action with no expectation of return’, which adds another dimension! Thank you for responding, appreciated.

  11. This was such a wonderful post. Thank you for this insightful look at Barnabas and how he was an encourager. Love the questions you posed to us too!

  12. i so love Barnabas and his Christ-like heart!! Thank you for highlighting him in this piece! well written!
    Your words often inspire me 🙂

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