Acts 4:32–37 (NLT): 32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.
Acts 15:36–41 (NLT): Paul and Barnabas Separate
36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” 37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. 39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas, and as he left, the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s gracious care. 41 Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches there.
The last decade gave us a small batch of movies and television shows about the life of Jesus and the leaders of the Early Church. Previous generations may have criticized them for being fictional accounts, or “historical ficiton”, with their plots and characters based somewhat upon historical fact. The truth is, we no longer live in the early 1900s and we love a good story whether it is true or not.
Stories don’t have to be true to bring encouragement. Sometimes it helps though. I wish we had more stories of Barnabas. He was a leader of the church in Jerusalem who gave sacrificially and helped bring the gospel to the Gentile world. He did not do it for glory or honor. Instead, he thought of others rather than himself.
There is no historical proof for this, but I have come across two speculations about Barnabas, the encourager. The first is that he was the rich young ruler who left Jesus because he would not give up his possessions. After the resurrection, some have speculated that this wealthy young man sold all his possessions and because a disciple. Again, there is no proof that this is true, but it makes for a good story.
The other speculation is that Barnabas is the author of the letter to the Hebrews that is found in the New Testament. That one is harder for me to believe, but that letter has an emphasis on encouragement – a large part of the calling Barnabas had on his life.
Facts are important. Telling one another the truth in love is important. So is encouragement. Sometimes we just need a gentle nudge forward to keep us going in the right direction. We need someone to help us over the hurdles we face in life.
- Who is the biggest encourager in your life?
- Who has God put in your life to encourage?
- Who is the most difficult person for you to encourage? Why?
Your promise still stands. Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness. I’m still in Your hands. This is my confidence, You never failed me yet.