Encouragement is a powerful gift and the lack of it can destroy beyond recognition. I read a story recently about a young minister in Holland who was described by Charles Spurgeon as one of the best preachers he had ever heard but in his own country all he ever received was criticism. This young man fell away from the faith and then went to live on the streets with the dregs of society. He then began to paint but none of his works were ever received well. Vincent Van Gogh was so much in despair he then committed suicide by shooting himself.
A tragedy indeed and the lack of encouragement within society today rings true in so many guises. Encouragement is undoubtedly one of the nicest characteristics of the Holy Spirit. The “encourager” we recognise most in scripture is Barnabas he was given the name by the other apostles such was his keenness to see the best in people. Encouragers seem to recognise the good in others that no one else can see, they recognise genuine change in those that others feel they fall short. Barnabas reconciled Paul to the disciples in Jerusalem because they had given him a frosty reception after they could only see what he once was not what he had become.
Henry Drummond, an evangelist with DL Moody, once said “How many prodigals are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unholy characters of those who profess to be inside?” I pray that the shameful characters within the church today can have a revelation of just how much God loves us exactly how we are and that no matter how much more we think we can achieve or please God it is simply impossible to earn more of his love. My righteousness is as filthy rags to Him.