A word of encouragement
…there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).
Acts 4:36 (NLT)
Every person needs a little encouragement at one time or another. A Christian named Joseph was such an encourager that it earned him the nickname Barnabas, meaning ‘Son of Encouragement’. Barnabas was drawn to people he could encourage and he was a great help to those around him. It is delightful that wherever Barnabas encouraged people, non-Christians flocked to become Christians.
Barnabas’s actions were crucial to the early church. In a way, we can thank him for most of the New Testament. God used his relationship with Paul at one point, and with Mark at another, to keep these two men going when either might have failed; Barnabas did wonders with encouragement. When Paul arrived in Jerusalem for the first time (following his conversion) the local Christians were reluctant to welcome him. They thought his story was a trick to kill more Christians. But Barnabas was willing to risk his life to meet with Paul and convince the others that their former enemy was now a vibrant believer in Jesus. We can only imagine what would have happened to Paul without Barnabas.
There are lessons we can learn from Barnabas’s life:
- Encouragement is one of the most effective ways to help others
- Sooner or later, true obedience to God will involve stepping out in faith, sometimes in difficult or risky situations
- There is always someone who needs encouragement
We read in Acts 11: 23-24 more about Barnabas: ‘When [Barnabas] arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.’
Barnabas was a wonderful example of encouragement and also of courage and faith motivated by his love of God and his fellow believers – one we can all learn from.
Almighty God, give us the wisdom and the right words to say, so that we may encourage those we meet who are troubled and discouraged, and lift their spirits up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Dennis Payne
About the writer:
Dennis Payne is a Deacon in the Central London congregation of Grace Communion International.
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