In the book of Acts — Chapter 4, to be exact — we are introduced to a man named Joseph, but who was given the nickname Barnabas.
“Bar” means son, and this man’s nickname literally means “son of encouragement.”
As we read Barnabas’ story in the book of Acts, we discover that he was indeed a man who encouraged others. In Acts 4:26-37, he sold some property he owned and donated the proceeds to the apostles so they could buy food and whatever else was necessary to meet the needs of poorer Christians.
In Acts 9:26-27, Barnabas introduced the early church leaders to a man named Saul. We know this Saul better by the name Paul.
This may not seem like such a big deal to us, but Saul had been a great persecutor of the church. Now he was claiming to have been converted.
There were those with doubts, wondering if it was a ruse to give him access to more believers. Barnabas encouraged Saul/Paul and the church by bringing them together.
Paul and Barnabas were the first missionary team in Christian history, going about to plant churches in the gentile world. Later in Acts, they had a bit of a disagreement.
Actually, according to Acts 15:39, this was a rather sharp disagreement. Barnabas wanted to take a young man named Mark on another mission trip, but Paul refused.
It seems that Mark had abandoned them once, and Paul was unwilling to take him the second time.
Barnabas chose to stay with Mark, and indeed, the two of them went on a mission trip together. Paul went in another direction with a man named Silas.
From later writings in the New Testament, we discover that Paul and Mark made amends. They were again good friends. I wonder if Barnabas’ encouragement to Mark had anything to do with that. In fact, I am convinced that it did.
It seems every time we encounter Barnabas, he is encouraging someone in the faith. I don’t know about you, but I have been blessed through the years to have those who have encouraged me in my faith.
Like Barnabas, they have stayed in the background, but they have encouraged so many others to remain faithful and strong in the faith.
You can be like Barnabas. There is someone in your family, in your church, in your neighborhood, at work or school who needs to be encouraged.
Take the time this week to be the one who gives encouragement. You can change the world one person at a time as you encourage them to do God’s will.