The Barnabas factor

ENCOURAGE
verb. 1. To inspire confidence or increase the likelihood of empowering an act to proceed

In the Bible, encouragement is mentioned as a requirement of every believer (1 Thessalonians 5:11) yet there are biblical figures that are particularly gifted with a spirit of encouragement (Romans 12:8).

Last Sunday we continued through the scripture of Acts 4:32-37. Joseph, who is endearingly nicknamed Barnabas (meaning “son of encouragement”) (Acts 4:36) by the apostles is a notable figure that calls to attention the impact of encouragement. Barnabas models four key things that characterise an encourager:

  1. An Encourager Sees What is Unseen in People

  2. An Encourager Avoids Prominence for Themselves

  3. An Encourager Brings Unity

  4. An Encourager is a Problem Solver

BARNABAS AS THE EXAMPLE

Like a shepherd herding his sheep, Barnabas with the heart of Jesus sees Paul (formerly Saul of Damascus) and includes him within the brotherhood of the apostles (Acts 9:27). Despite the fear and mistrust in Paul’s transformed and renewed character, Barnabas testifies against the apostle’s disbelief. At the centre of an encouraging word or act, is altruism invested in exhorting the other. Barnabas’ humility seen in selling his land and surrendering the profits to the apostles attests to the selflessness characteristic of an encourager. In Acts 15:36-40 Barnabas invites John (Mark), later recognised as the author of the Gospel of Mark, into partnership with Paul and himself in visiting the believers in the Mediterranean cities of Cyprus to Lystra (Acts 14:21). Paul disagrees with John (Mark)’s involvement however Barnabas finds a resolve to their predicament: Barnabas partners with John (Mark), leaving Paul to partner with brother Silas as they each diverge to strengthen the church (Acts 15:41). His love for the church and charitability paves a way for unity among the believers; for others to serve, and another to be served; with one heart, one mind (Acts 4:32).

ENCOURAGERS TODAY

Whether we recognise a spiritual gifting or speciality in giving encouragement, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to be encouragers (Hebrews 3:13). Like the early church seen in Acts 4:32-37, the church today should strive as one body to serve as witnesses to Christ’s love for us by outpouring love through word and deed.


Dear Lord,

Thank You for the church of today. I pray that the Holy Spirit which dwells within your church would spur us into encouragement with one another, that the Holy Spirit would be our witness to the love shown through your Son, Jesus. May we spread the Gospel through word and deed, for your glory alone.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen