Summary: What can we learn from Barnabas the encourager?
Barnabas – the son of encouragement.
Look at a number of passages:
Read Acts 4:36
A Levite – the Jewish Tribe who served in the temple, his family obviously moved to Cyprus at some stage and so he didn’t serve in the temple. His real name was Joseph, and Barnabas was a nickname meaning Son of Encouragement.
We’ll talk more about the whole idea of encouragement in a moment, but I want us all to think about this:
Q: If you had a nickname like Barnabas, son of encouragement, what would it be?
Tell you what… here’s a risky suggestion!
- get interactive!!
Often easier to ask someone else!
IF YOU WANT
If you’re sat near someone you trust and know well, why not ask them?
Perhaps you need to move around a bit?
Be honest – in a loving way!
Remember that James & John were called the sons of thunder!!!
Also remember we’re talking about a man of encouragement!
I wonder if you were surprised or disappointed by what you were told?
So here’s another question:
Q: What would you like your nickname to be?
Incorporating what you feel God may be saying to you or leading you to, and what gifts you believe you may have, what would the nickname be?
Ok let’s move on and find the second time we meet Barnabas.
Read Acts 9:26-28
Saul has just escaped being killed in Damascus by being lowered down the city walls in a basket. And here he comes to Jerusalem.
He’s back at the place where everyone knows him as a Christian Hater! He’s the one who stood and watched, giving his approval of Stephen’s stoning not long ago.
No wonder the disciples were all afraid of him!
Q: I wonder how would you have felt – the same as the disciples? Be honest!
Then Barnabas comes along side him and takes him with him to the apostles.
He becomes Saul’s advocate.
Whether Barnabas had been with him in Damascus or just heard from people there what had gone on, we don’t know.
All we know is he stood up as a sponsor for him.
William Barclay writes, ‘Barnabas insisted on believing the best of others. When others suspected Saul of being a spy, Barnabas insisted on believing that he was genuine.
The world is largely divided into those who think best of others and those who think the worst’.
Q. Think.Which one am I?
Do you see the best in people? Do you see their positive points, their gifts and abilities, their potential?
Or do you see their faults? Do you find yourself always criticising people when they make mistakes?
Barclay continues, ‘as Paul himself said, “Love thinks no evil.” No one believed in men as Jesus did and it should be enough for the disciple that he be as his Lord’.
Jesus believes in people!
And so must I if I call myself a follower of Jesus.
But also Barnabas didn’t hold people’s past against them.
Of course he knew about Saul and why the others were scared of him, but he also knew the dramatic change in Saul’s life.
He knew that Saul couldn’t change his past.
But he also knew that Saul had left his past behind and was walking a new path.
So often we see a man forever condemned because he once made a mistake.
So often it is us doing the condemning!
If God forgives repentant sinners, then shouldn’t we?
• Not saying no consequences or justice!
Am I holding someone’s past against them?
Onto our main passage.
Acts 11 – Barnabas sent to Antioch.
Read Acts 11:19-26
Good things were happening in Antioch. The news had reached back to Jerusalem and they wanted to send someone to check it out.
But who should go!
Mr Encourager of course!
Barclay calls him, ‘the man with the biggest heart in the church’.
And Barnabas is pleased with what he finds and guess what he does…he encourages them!
He encourages them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Antioch was a thriving mega-city, the third largest in the Roman empire at that time. It was a sophisticated city of culture with numerous races, religions and lifestyles all thrown together.
No wonder he encouraged them to remain true to the Lord.
Once again we see the encourager at work.
Barnabas – son of encouragement.
Q. Ask yourself:
• When was the last time I encouraged a Christian brother or sister to persevere in the Lord?
• When was the last time I encouraged anyone?
The church needs more encouragers!
The WORLD needs more encouragers!
Every one of us will testify to what a word of encouragement will do to our spirits.
It gives us a boost, a lift, an energy to keep going.