Do you find it easier to see the negative in a situation or a person rather than the positive? I find myself there too often. Yet, the Scriptures command us to encourage, exhort, and spur each other on to maturity in Christ.
Barnabas doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the Bible, but he was a model encourager. His name means consolation. Consolation is the act of consoling someone, of comforting and encouraging. Barnabas shows you how to become a better and more faithful encourager to others.
We meet Barnabas first in the context of the newly birthed Church. Everyone in this group had their needs met by the voluntary sharing of their possessions. Barnabas was a Levite, from Cyprus, a country noted at that time for its self-indulgent luxury and sensuality. He had some real estate, and of his own free will, he sold that real estate and brought the money and laid it at the apostle’s feet.
Barnabas became the poorest person in the early church. His example demonstrated “freedom from the love of things and a heart of love for the poor.” Are your possessions available for God’s use to spur others on?
Later, when Saul was converted, everybody was afraid of him because of his prior mistreatment of the Believers! Barnabas comes to the rescue. He trusted the genuineness of Saul’s testimony. He was convinced of Saul’s authenticity and used the position (influence) he’d gained by his prior example of generosity and faithfulness. Are you and I willing to do that?
Then, in Acts 11, Barnabas was sent to verify the reports of this great number of Greek-speaking Jews who were coming to faith in Jesus. Barnabas was so motivated to encourage these new believers that he left Antioch and went to Tarsus to find Saul, now Paul. The distance between these two cities is about 243 kilometers or 150 miles. That’s a long way to walk!
Ask God how you can use your position, and your influence to be like Barnabas.
Finally, we note the persistence of Barnabas. When John Mark left Paul and Barnabas in Perga, Paul wrote him off as a wimp, hardly suitable for the rigors of ministry in that era. But Barnabas was resolved that John Mark should have another chance. Paul said, “nothing doing.” Their disagreement became so strong that they parted ways.
Have you ever been like Paul? You looked at someone’s failure, someone’s lack of maturity, and said, “I won’t go through that again.” Barnabas was determined to give John Mark another chance. So, they teamed up together and headed for Cyprus.
And what was the result of Barnabas giving John Mark that second chance? In Colossians 4:10, Paul writes “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)”
And then, in Second Timothy chapter 4, we have some of the apostle Paul’s last recorded words. “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” Because of Barnabas’ faithful persistence, we are the beneficiaries of John Mark’s life and the gospel account he wrote.
I hope you’ve seen how you can be a “Barnabas.” Are you willing to use your possessions to encourage those in need? Are you willing to use your position, your influence, to encourage those who may be on the margins? And are you willing to persist in encouraging someone, even when others tell you to “give it up?” Are you willing to continue even in the face of rejection and disgust? So, be like Barnabas, and get your spurs on.
– J. Mark Horst