“When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Acts 11:23-26
Barnabus: son of counsel, consolation, exhortation. The blessing of Barnabus is sprinkled through the history of the early church, and the ripple effects of his encouragement spread far and wide and down through the ages. To grasp the key to his oft but briefly mentioned ministry, we can consider the summary of him in this description. His secret was the Holy Spirit, by whom he was full of faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
When we surrender to Christ and are filled with His Spirit, He imputes to us His goodness, replacing old habits and cranky attitudes with the mind and ways of Christ. Through ongoing sanctification, selfishness transforms to godliness, and we become increasingly like Him, loving what He loves, serving as He serves, acting and responding as He would. Christ in us compels us to go and look for His grace in what He is doing around us, and to encourage others to press on in faith. (1 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18)
As an effective Barnabus, we trace His hand through events and unfolding lives. We recognize that it is indeed His grace that has given the misdirected new vision, the weak strength, and the timid boldness. And we tell them so. We tell them He will do it again.
We rejoice in the Lord- who He is and what He is doing. Our gratitude, gladness, and cheer are a magnet to those who are insecure, downcast, or needing encouragement. Our rejoicing attracts them to the Lord of joy who personally cares. Exhorting faithfulness to Him is a natural follow. ‘You can do it! Keep on! Persevere! You’re not alone! God is able! He who has promised will bring it to pass!’ Pointing them to the Word is a sure and practical encouragement. (2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:24)
Encouragement reminds the doubting, fragile, and uncertain they have a worthy purpose, and can keep it at the fore. Barnabuses motivate others to focus their eyes on Jesus, get familiar with and hone their gifts. They spur them to keep disciplined for the race, stay on track, run for the goal. (Hebrews 10:24-25; 12:1-3)
What are we doing to upbuild others? To be a Barnabus, we must remain filled with the Spirit and firm in faith. It’s vital we maintain spiritual disciplines to be attentive to needs, insightful, and able to come alongside the faltering. An empty vessel cannot refresh, a wayward vehicle has no direction. Would we pray for opportunity, immerse ourselves in the Word, and serve one another with truth, love, and consolation? (Proverbs 11:25; 1 Corinthians 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Lord of grace, help me encourage with abandon, that others may grow in their identity as Yours.