Has anybody ever given you a nickname because of your attitude or behavior? There was a man in the New Testament times who was given a name to show what he did: he was an encourager.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, was given the name Barnabas by the apostles, which means Son of Encouragement. He must have done a pretty good job of encouraging to be honored with such a name! What we read about him in the book of Acts shows that he was an encourager. I’m sure he had what the Bible speaks of the Gift of Encouragement (Romans 12:8).
When Saul (later called Paul), who had persecuted the Church before he was saved, came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. No one believed that he was a disciple. “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”
Later, Barnabas was sent by the church at Jerusalem to Antioch. “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord.” The Bible says he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.
While in Antioch Barnabas must have remembered Saul, and probably wondered what had happened to him. What did this encourager do? He went to Tarsus to look for Saul. Then he brought him to Antioch, and for a whole year both of them met with the church and taught great numbers of people.
While they were busy teaching and encouraging, the Holy Spirit said to the church to set them apart for the work he had called them to. And so, the Son of Encouragement and the Apostle to the Gentiles went on their first missionary journey. (See Acts 9:26-27; 11:22-26; 13:1-4.)
We are to
- “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thess 5:11).
- “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb 10:24).
- “encourage one another daily” (Heb 3:13).
What should our encouragement be?
- Keep the faith
- Be strong in the Lord
- Fix your eyes on Jesus
- Love the Lord with all your heart
- Love your neighbor as yourself
- Live as to make God “proud” of you (Hebrews 11:16)
- Expect Jesus to come back any day
MORE THAN A TALKER, BE A LISTENER!
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts
and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thess 2:16,17).