Summary: Barnabas' name means, "Son of Encouragement". What can we learn about his encouraging ways and how can we put them into practice?
BE A BARNABITE
INTRODUCTION: The devil once advertised his tools for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly shaped tool, which was labeled "Not for sale." Asked to explain why this was, the devil answered, "I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it, I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a person's heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire." We can all be subject to discouragement. There are many things in life that cause us to experience the draining of courage. Sometimes it's a crisis, sometimes it's simply tiredness or sickness, or sometimes it's the cutting words or actions of another person. There is a story about a pastor leaving a church. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage one of the pillar members, "Don't be so sad. The next pastor might be better than me." She replied, "That's what they said last time, but it keeps getting worse." When our courage has been depleted, encouragement is the replenishment of courage. It represents the putting back what has been taken or that which has leaked out of us. The OT word for encouragement means to strengthen. To encourage is to inspire, to lift someone’s spirits, to instill hope. Let’s take a look at someone who did just that.
Barnabas actually means "Son of Encouragement" (son of exhortation-the giving of earnest encouragement. Son of consolation-comfort, solace, relief, support). It wasn’t just a name it was his character. His name matched his most outstanding characteristic. What if our name matched our most outstanding characteristic? That might be embarrassing.
1) What do we know about Barnabas?
• He was generous (Acts 4:36-37). He used his resources to bless and encourage those in need. One of the ways we encourage others is by being generous.
• He looked at the positive characteristics of people (Acts 9:26-28). Barnabas focused on the changes that had taken place in Saul. He was able to persuade the Apostles to believe in how he was presenting Saul. Barnabas was able to see what people had become, not what they were. If we are going to be encouraging we need to be able to focus on people’s positive characteristics. We focus on how they have changed and what they have become, not on who they were before.
• He was focused on discipleship (Acts 11:22-26). Barnabas had a heart for the new Christians. He wanted to teach them and inspire them to stick with it; to persevere. If we are going to be encouragers we need to help fellow believers to stay true to the Lord. We will encourage them to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.
• He encouraged people to repent (Acts 14:11-15). Barnabas was offended at sin. He could’ve been swept up in the honor placed on him but he knew it was wrong. He wanted to discourage that and encourage them to turn from their worthless things and turn to the one and only God. To be an encourager we need to discourage wrong behavior and encourage right behavior. Discourage sin and encourage holiness. In the book, “Who’s Who in the NT” under the section about Barnabas it finishes with, “It may be said that without the sympathy and encouragement of Barnabas, the vital contributions of Paul and Mark to the Christian faith and the NT might never have been made.” Encouragement goes a long way in accomplishing the work of God.