The DNA of an Encourager
Unedited transcript of sermon delivered at Windsor Park Baptist Church
550 East Coast Rd, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 18/3/2001, Brian Winslade, All rights reserved
Unless stated otherwise, all Scripture quotations in this publication are taken from the HOLY BIBLE. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers
I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. He is one of those guys who really inspires you in life. Whenever you hear anything about him or what he has done it motivates you to do something similar. His name is Joe. He’s a Jew by ethnic background although he actually grew up in Cyprus.
Really good mentors in life are like gold. To have a positive role model to look up to and follow is really helpful and Joe is one of those kind of people. Not only is his own life really encouraging but just noting the way he lives and goes about life inspires you to do something similar yourself. His attitude towards people kind of rubs off on you.
Actually I suspect a number of you know my friend Joe or at least you have heard about him. Some of the things he has done have made him rather famous. However, I suspect he wouldn’t want to accept much in the way of credit - he is more of a “behind the scenes” type of person.
In introducing my friend Joe I guess I need to come clean and admit to the fact that I have never actually met him personally. You see he lived 2000 years ago; he’s a character we read about in the New Testament. But the fact that we have never met face to face doesn’t diminish in any way the respect I have for him or the impact his life has on mine.
When I say that a number of you also know Joe, or at least about him, you may not recognise him by that name. Joseph was the name that his parents gave him but most people recognise him by the nickname that the leaders of the early church gave him. They didn’t call him Joe, they called him Barnabas. The term Barnabas was derived from two words or phrases: “bar” was like a personal pronoun meaning “son of…” and “nabas” referred to prophetic exhortation that encouraged or built people up. So Barnabas literally meant “son of encouragement”, and it was a nickname which stuck for Joe throughout a large chunk of his life.
To call someone the “son of something” in Jewish culture was a way of describing their character – as if they were the offspring or outcome of a particular behaviour. For instance, the disciples of Jesus, James and John, where from the Zebedee family but their nickname was “sons of thunder” – presumably because of their personality. Barnabas, or “son of encouragement”, was a way of describing or capturing the personality of a person who was extremely encouraging to be around. To be known as Barnabas was a huge compliment. It represented a reputation of incredible honour. People thought well of you. When your name was mentioned the muscles in the faces of people formed into a smile, rather than a grimace. To be known as Barnabas was to have an extremely positive reputation. People looked forward to spending time with you.