Summary: Christians owe a lot to Barnabas. We owe Paul to him who went on to write 14 epistles. We also owe Mark to him who wrote the Gospel According to Mark. Thus, in a sense, we owe almost half of the New Testament to Barnabas, even if he did not write a singl
Intro: At the time of the writing of Hebrews, there was a great persecution. Our natural tendency during trials is to save our own skin or act to each his own. But Hebrews exhorts us to encourage one another. Encouragement is an act that helps someone be a better believer, even when life is rough and tough. In order to fully grasp the power of encouragement, we shall look at two things: the Principle and the Person of Encouragement.
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF ENCOURAGEMENT.
A. Encourage means “to comfort, console and strengthen.” Literally, “to put in courage.” To encourage is to inspire another with courage. The word “encourage” is akin with “Comforter,” one of the names of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26). People often connect the moving of God’s Spirit only with signs, wonders and miracles. However, when we truly encourage one another, we show God’s Holy Spirit is working in us and through us.
B. God commands us to encourage one another daily. We don’t wait for others to encourage us, but we ourselves take the initiative and become an encouragement even if others are not. This ministry is not for pastors only but for every believer (Heb. 3:12-13). The world is full of discouragers! It is our Christian duty to encourage people. Many times a word or act of thanks, appreciation or kindness has helped a weak brother stand on his feet and keep walking with God. Blessed is that man who encourages!
C. We are to consider one another (v.24a). To consider means “to be attentive or mindful.” In short, we are to habitually focus on encouraging one another – not by chance but by design and as part of our nature.
D. We are to provoke one another (v.24b). “Provoke” means “to incite, stir up, or stimulate someone to do something.” Are we to provoke another unto anger, bitterness, envy, hatred or evil? No, but “unto love and to good works.” There is a good and bad side in everyone (Gal. 5:16-26) and we are to provoke someone’s good side. If a brother became a more loving, better or a righteous person, then we have truly encouraged him!
E. We are not to forsake the assembly (v.25). Church absent-ism is despising the church of God! Notice the connection between the two clauses. That means even if we attend church but fail to encourage others, we have not fully obeyed God’s command! The purpose of our “assembling together” before Christ returns is not just to worship, but to encourage.
II. THE PERSON OF ENCOURAGEMENT
A. Next to Christ, we need to see a personal example in a man who lived a life of encouragement. He is known more for his nickname than real name. His name is Joses. You say, “Joses who?” See what I mean? But if I mention the name “Barnabas,” you’ll have an easy, instant recall!
B. We first encountered Barnabas in Acts 4:34-37. Family and friends give us nicknames to shorten our names or point out a quality in us. Joses earned the alias “Barnabas” for his unselfish, sacrificial life and testimony.
C. Barnabas sold his land to support God’s work and people. Notice that it was the APOSTLES who dubbed him “Son of Consolation.” If you would get a nickname for who you are or what you do, what would be it? If your life was reduced to a name, what would be it?” Would it be “Son of Consolation” or “Son of Consomation.” Will it be Barnabas or Barabbas?
D. Notice how Acts 11:24 describes Barnabas as “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” His goodness and faith brought encouragement to the brethren – proof the Spirit works in and through him.
E. In contrast to the good example of Barnabas, there is the bad example of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11 (Summary). Ananias is one whose heart Satan filled (Acts 5:3). What a contrast between two givers! It is possible to give, but for the wrong reasons! (Mark 12:41-44) Satan controlled Ananias; the Spirit controlled Barnabas. Who controls you?
F. Barnabas risked his name, reputation and honor on behalf of Saul who later on became Paul the apostle. Paul just became a new believer. Sadly, he persecuted Christians before (Acts 9:26-27). Barnabas supported Paul when no one else would even like to see, let alone believe him! I wonder what could have happened to Paul if Barnabas did not sponsor him?
G. Barnabas gave Paul his first ministry break. When God opened a door in Antioch, the early church sent Barnabas (Acts 11:23-24). Note in the verse that encouraging means asking people to “cleave unto the Lord.”
H. Barnabas could have taken the Antioch work for himself. Yet he took time, money and effort searching for Paul (Acts 11:25-26) which paid off! Note that Barnabas won “much people” to the Lord; but, with Paul on his team, notice how they “taught much people.” Their ministry was so effective that “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”