Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Have you ever had one of those days? Those days when you feel like you should have just stayed in bed. A day when everything goes the wrong way, and nothing seems to work out.
On those days, we wake up 30 minutes late to find that we set the alarm on PM instead of AM. Rushing to get ready you spill your breakfast on your shirt and have to change. Something forgotten, something lost, and bad news seems to follow you all day long.
The question isn’t if we are going to have days like these, it is what we do on these days.
This week we listened to Pastor Ron Williams tell us about the Gospel according to Barnabas. Who was Barnabas? We know he was a mentor and companion to Paul, and he was a missionary. The very first thing the Bible tells us about Barnabas is that his name means “Son of Encouragement.”
What a great name. Barnabas was an encourager. He wasn’t the kind of guy who would remind you about your faults in an issue. He was the kind of guy who would say things in such a way that you would work all the harder to make it right in the end.
What does it mean to encourage? A quick search on Amazon reveals about 2,000 books on the issue of encouragement. The Merriam–Webster’s dictionary tells us that to encourage means, “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; or to stimulate.” We are taught that encouraging is lifting someone’s spirits when they are down, but what does the scripture tells us about Christian encouragement?
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
The true encourager is the one who meets with his brothers and sisters in Christ and stirs them up to love and good works. Not just someone who makes you feel better, but someone who helps you to do the right thing. This is Christian encouragement. There isn’t anything wrong with helping someone feel better, but the goal of our Christian lives is that men and women would reflect Christ more and more each day.
There is no better example of an encourager in the scriptures than Barnabas. He and Paul were so effective together that, because of their work in Antioch, the word Christian was invented to describe the believers there. The very word we use to describe ourselves as followers and disciples of Christ began because of the encouragement of the church by Paul and Barnabas. Talk about spurring on others to love and good deeds.
The church needs more people like Barnabas—people who say what needs to be said, in such a way, that others do what is right. In hard times during the early church in Jerusalem, Barnabas sold his land and gave the money to the Apostles. The money was used not just to make the Apostles feel better, but rather to enable and help them fulfill the word of God.
We all need men and women in our lives to encourage us. Telling us not just what we want to hear, but what we need to hear—speaking the right words at the right times so that we desire to know Christ more and to reflect Him more in our lives. These people teach us what it means to be a Christian and how to reflect the love of Christ.
What are we going to do the next time we are having one of those days, or encounter another brother or sister in Christ having one of those days? Are we going to let the day get the better of us, or are we going to choose to be an encourager and be encouraged into doing the right thing?
Let us make it our goal this next week to proclaim the Gospel in the same way Barnabas would have proclaimed it. Let us proclaim the gospel in a way that spurs others to live for Christ more each day.