Posted by: missionventureministries | July 19, 2018

BEING A BARNABAS AND ENCOURAGING PEOPLE – John 7:38

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)

Barnabas’ name was actually Joseph but he was such an uplifting person that the leaders of the early Christian church changed his name to Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”  

Barnabas was willing to take risks to give others a new start in life and that is what he did for Saul. Saul had made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison. Now while on a trip to the city of Damascus where he was planning on doing the same, he had an encounter that changed his life. He heard the voice of Jesus and saw a bright light. The voice said, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4) 

Not recognizing the voice, Saul asked who the voice belonged to and was told “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). The brightness of Jesus’ light blinded Saul for three days. The voice of Jesus, whom Saul had been certain was dead, removed his spiritual blindness and allowed him to see that Jesus was the Messiah, just as the Christians that he had been persecuting had been saying. 

Now, Saul wanted nothing to do with his old life, all he wanted was to follow and teach everyone about Jesus. He began to share his new-found faith with people and was very effective in leading non-Christians to Christ. But he was less than effective in convincing the Christian leaders that he was authentic in his love for Jesus. 

This is when Barnabas stepped in: “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus” (Acts 9:27). 

As we see, Barnabas not only “took him”, but walked with him to where the apostles were and vouched for his experience. We can be like Barnabas. We are to be generous disciples, who help “take people” to their calling, and their vocation. 

Paul, formally Saul was the lowest of the low in the eyes of the Christian leaders. Barnabas reached out and lifted Paul up in the eyes of others. From that time on, Paul was allowed to preach about Jesus and became one of the greatest Christian teachers in the early church. But none of it would have been possible without Barnabas, the son of encouragement. 

As we see, Barnabas obviously had influence with the leadership of the early Christian church. They listened respectfully as he told the story of what happened to Paul and how he had been changed. 

Standing in the gap causes the doubters to suspend judgment for a moment as they try to rationalize, “Why would you stake your reputation on this person?” 

Once you have convinced others to give the new person a go, you need to stand by them and encourage them! Barnabas modeled this well with Paul. He traveled and preached with Paul for a couple of years then moved on, to encourage the next young leader. 

Only trust makes this kind of encouragement possible. Paul trusted Barnabas and Barnabas trusted Paul to continue in the way he had been trained. Both of them moved into new spheres of influence as they allowed physical distance to come between them. 

Do you have a Barnabas in your life?  Do you have a friend who comes alongside of you and says: ‘I’m here for you?’  Or, ‘I love you.’  Or, ‘I know that with God’s help you can do it!’  – Because: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

More important, are you a Barnabas?  If you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have the same resources that Barnabas had. He had heard Jesus’ message of salvation and glorious living through the power of God.  

The reason Barnabas could be such an encourager to others is that he believed in the greatest Encourager! God is the “Father of mercies and the God of all encouragement” (2 Corinthians 1:3). The grace of Jesus changed Barnabas into a son of the Father of encouragement!  So Barnabas learned to treat others the way God treated him. He knew the Source of encouragement, and he became a wonderful imitator of his Lord.  

God’s Word tells us that we too can be like Jesus (Ephesians 5:1).  How are you doing in this area of reflecting Christ?  Do you seek to encourage others? How are you encouraging your friends? Are you engaged in the ministry of encouragement? If people were asked to give you a nickname, as they did Barnabas, would “Encourager” apply to you?  

So how can we become a Barnabas?  Let’s consider specifically how our words can encourage others, just as Barnabas’s did. Consider Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  That’s an amazing verse.  It says that we have the power, through words, to lift or subdue a spirit; so we must be careful to lift and not to make people feel worse, when they need encouragement.   

As Christians God wants us to be encourager to others, meaning, to give hope and to inspire others, opening up their eyes to their God given potential. There is a saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  

Encouraging others is one of the most overlooked and undervalued life skills. No child becomes a healthy adult without a fair dose of encouragement and challenge from a significant adult. Without being encouraged, young people are left to wallow in meaningless activities and irresponsible living. Only through the gift of encouragement are people truly allowed to shine. 

The Lord said to Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) 

And He encouraged Isaiah by telling him: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.(Isaiah 41:10) 

Barnabas trusted God to make him the encourager that he became and he will do likewise for all that are willing to do the same. 

Remember, people don’t care about how much you know – until they know how much you care. 

“Lift up Jesus He’s the only one we really need to see,

Lift up Jesus He’s the only one who can fill the void in me.”

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