Have you ever had someone come to your side at a time of difficulty?  We all have an image that comes to mind of an individual who has provided encouragement, comfort, exhortation, or consolation during a difficult time in our lives.  That person is a blessing from God and when we consider the topic of encouragement, one would be negligent in not remembering a great New Testament example!

Joseph was called Barnabas by the apostles because his character was like that of an encourager.  In fact, the name Barnabas means son of encouragement.  We can find four examples of Barnabas providing encouragement in the book of Acts, that more than like had a profound impact on the establishment of the church.  In Acts chapter 4 we find the infant church growing tremendously and as result needy persons were identified with the church.  While all gave to support the churches needy, Barnabas was identified with his generosity.  One version says he sold his farm, a piece of property worth a great deal and gave that money to the church.

In Acts chapters 9 and 11 we find him providing encouragement to a new Christian who had a history of murder and imprisonment of Christians.  Saul found that being a Christian was not the easiest thing for him but Barnabas came to his aid and presented his case before the apostles.  And when the church began to grow greatly in the area of Antioch, Barnabas went and sought out Saul for his assistance for the work there. 

The last example we’ll look at is found in Acts chapter 15.  Paul desired to return to churches established on the first missionary journey.  Barnabas and Paul disagreed strongly on whether to take John Mark with them, with Paul not wanting to.  On the first journey Mark had deserted them less than halfway through the trip; he failed to meet his responsibilities.  To his rescue came Barnabas, in that rather than go with Paul, he and John Mark left together on a different journey. 

When we look at what Barnabas did in these examples, we can conclude that his encouragement was instrumental in Paul continuing in his work for the Lord, a work that includes nearly half of what we know as the New Testament.  Not to be left out would be John Mark, who later penned one of the four Gospels of Christ.  Let’s strive to be like Barnabas and seek ways to be an encourager for the Lord.

Copyright © 2002, Nolan P. Rutter

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