There’s No Knowing

The first time he’s mentioned, we’re not given much detail.

Joseph…a Levite, a native of Cyprus,…” (Acts 4:36, ESV)

Luke also gives us his nickname, and helpfully tells us what it means too.

…Barnabas. (which means son of encouragement), …”

What follows is precious insight into the character of a man who, whilst only mentioned a few times, turns out to be rather influential in the development of the early church.

The apostles gave him his nickname. They must have recognised something about this Joseph now Barnabas; struck by this particular trait. Nicknames are usually given for some recognisable characteristic aren’t they?

Are you ready for Luke’s precious insight? We read it in verse 37, where we learn that Barnabas…

“…sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

Barnabas saw a need, and in his generosity, contributed towards it. He encouraged the apostles through his participation in the life and mission of the early church.

Barnabas: Son of Encouragement.

The next time we meet Barnabas, it’s in Acts 9:27. Newly-converted Saul has fled Damascus (there was a Jewish plot to kill him) for Jerusalem. Saul’s reputation as a persecutor of Christians follows him and Jesus’s disciples are understandably reluctant to welcome Saul. That is, until Barnabas gets involved.

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.”

He then proceeds to share Saul’s story with the apostles. He reassures the disciples, he champions Saul’s cause, and becomes his advocate.

Barnabas: Son of Encouragement.

He reappears in Acts 11:22. The early church, scattered by persecution, is growing. News of this growth reaches the church in Jerusalem. And so they send someone to Antioch to encourage the fledgling church. Any idea who? That’s right…

Barnabas: Son of Encouragement.

True to his nickname, we read in verse 11:23:

…he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.” (NLT)

There he is again. Exhorting. Encouraging.

Just a few verses later he’s at it again! Wanting to continue to encourage Saul, he searches and finds him to bring him back to Antioch to work together. For a whole year Saul receives purposeful, intentional, deliberate encouragement in the art of disciple-making alongside Barnabas.

Barnabas: Son of Encouragement.

In Acts 15:36-41, we read of one more Barnabas moment. Paul and Barnabas are about to set out on another journey. But they disagree over Barnabas’ desire to take John Mark with them. You see, John Mark had deserted them on a previous journey. The implication is that Paul doesn’t want to waste his time with John Mark…an unreliable quitter. So Paul and Barnabas part company. Paul takes Silas. Barnabas takes John Mark.

Remember how Barnabas came alongside Saul as his advocate, showing concern, nurturing, leading and encouraging him? Isn’t that what Barnabas was doing for John Mark?

Barnabas is through-and-through an encourager! He notices people. He empathises with them. And most importantly…he takes action. Coming alongside, with fitting words perfectly timed.

I wonder where Paul would have been without Barnabas? Without the advocacy, support, interest, intentional nurturing, and encouragement?

So…who can you encourage? Who needs you to come alongside them? Who can you nurture today? Because there’s no knowing how God might use your encouragement in the life of someone else.

Copyright © 2014, Insight for Living UK. All rights reserved worldwide.
Posted in Encouragement & Healing and tagged .

Simon Lang is a graduate of Oak Hill Theological College and serves as Pastoral Care Representative for Insight for Living UK. Simon is also a pastor of a church in Beckenham.