By Les Morgan, D. Min.

Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish composer-pianist, was once scheduled to perform at a great American concert hall for a high-society extravaganza. In the audience was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, the boy slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the Steinway on the stage. Without much notice from the audience, he sat down at the stool and began playing “chopsticks.” The roar of the crowd turned to shouts as hundreds yelled, “Get that boy away from there!” When Paderewski heard the uproar backstage, he grabbed his coat and rushed over behind the boy. Reaching around him from behind, the master began to improvise a counter-melody to “Chopsticks.” As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear, “Keep going. Don’t quit, son…don’t stop…don’t stop.”

Paderewski gave the greatest gift that day – the gift of encouragement. The gift of encouragement means to impart courage, strength and confidence. The gift of encouragement is the least expensive but most valuable gift we can give.

The early church had a leader named Barnabas. His real name was Joseph, who was a Levitical priest. They nicknamed him Barnabas, meaning the son of encouragement (Acts 4:36-37). Barnabas comes from the Greek word Paraklete, which is the name Jesus used for the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is the paraklete, meaning comforter, encourager, intercessor and counselor.

Barnabas is an example to us. He was so full of the Holy Spirit that the greatest attribute of his life was encouragement. Who do you know today that needs encouragement? Reach out to them. Send them a text, Facebook them, buy them a gift, give them a call or take them to lunch.

Give the gift!