His real name was Joseph, but he was surnamed “Barnabas,” which literally means “son of encouragement” (or consolation). If he were alive today, he would likely be called, “brother Barney,” and people would say, “Look how he encourages!” If the church of our dear Lord is to be built up and God exalting, there will always be a great need for real encouragers! (See Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).
God is the God of “all comfort” or encouragement (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). We are never more godly than when we seek through our words and actions to encourage others in the Lord. And that’s where the example of Barnabas proves helpful; nearly every time he is mentioned in Scripture, he’s living up to his name. From Barnabas, we see encouragement in at least six areas of church life. And it’s my prayer that similar encouragement will be seen in our lives through these areas too. We will look at three of these this week, and three more in next week’s Monday’s With Mike.
Like Barnabas, I Will Encourage the Church in the Area of Generosity and Stewardship (Acts 4:34-37). Barnabas generously gave when there was a legitimate need due to the early church’s expansion, poverty and onset of persecution. He understood the difference between stewardship and ownership, and so should we (Luke 16:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2). He not only gave generously of his money, but of his time and ability. Some may not be as financially able as others, yet they encourage mightily by the way they utilize their time and talent. Barnabas understood all of life’s blessings to be a sacred trust, and so should we.
Like Barnabas, I Will Encourage the Church in the Area of Friendship and Fellowship (Acts 9:22-27). When Saul of Tarsus became a Christian, more than a few people wanted him dead while many Christians feared him. He was sort of a man without a country. Thank God that Barnabas reached out to him in friendship! (See Proverbs 27:17; Romans 15:5-7). When was the last time you heard anyone pray, “God, give us new persons to love and befriend as Christians?” This practice was natural and genuine to Barnabas, and it ought to be with us as well.
Like Barnabas, I Will Encourage the Church in the Area of Growth and Involvement (Acts 11:19-26). When the early church wanted to help the young Christians at Antioch grow in their walk with the Lord, they sent Barnabas. Are we the type of people our congregation might send if we were in a similar circumstance? Sadly, perhaps every church has someone they would never send on such a mission due to the individual’s selfishness, immaturity and poor attitude! When Barnabas saw what God was doing in Antioch, he quickly realized the task was too big for one man to handle. So he reached out to Saul. He did not get “territorial” and declare this ministry to be “hands off” to all others; he initiated contact with someone well qualified to help. Barnabas didn’t care who got the credit as long as God got the glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). And the church was blessed as a result. Antioch would indeed become a launching pad for the gospel to the world. Our encouragement of good may well have greater impact than we ever imagined!
The church of our Lord always will be in need of encouragers. Let’s be the type of people whose encouragement makes a positive impact for good in the Lord’s Kingdom! Mike Vestal