When he arrived and saw this proof of God’s favor,
he was filled with joy,
and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
Acts 11:23 NLT
A couple years ago I heard about the idea of choosing a “word of the year” to focus on instead of a New Year’s Resolution. Our family decided to do the word of the year thing this year and I chose the word “encouragement.” My goal with this is to intentionally try to encourage at least one person every day.
Wanna hear the weird thing, though? When I chose it, some part of me was thinking “Is encouragement really a good choice? Does it really help anyone? I should pick something super powerful instead… something like RESILIENCE or PATIENCE or LAUNDRY…” But I stuck with encouragement. And then God reminded me of someone in the Bible who was known for his encouragement!
Ever hear of Barnabas? He’s mentioned a few times in the New Testament, mostly in Acts, 1st Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians. His birth name was actually Joseph, but he was so good at encouraging that people began calling him Barnabas because it means “Son of Encouragement.” That’s SO COOL!!!!
Here’s some other stats about how God used Barnabas’ gift of encouragement to change our world:
- Acts 9:26-28 When Paul first became a Christian, most of the Christians he spoke to thought he was trying to trick them so that he could capture/kill them (because of his past – see last week’s post for more). But Barnabas willingly met with Paul and then encouraged the others to give Paul a try. Where would Paul be without a Barnabas?
- Acts 11:19-24 Barnabas traveled to Antioch to see if the news about the many new Christians was actually true. “When he arrived and saw this proof of God’s favor, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.” (Acts 11:23) My Bible commentary says that “It is delightful that wherever Barnabas encouraged Christians, Non-Christians flocked to become believers!” (Life Application Bible, NLT) Encouragement is a culture-shaper; even thriving efforts need it to keep on task and focused!
- Acts 15:36-40 Barnabas encouraged John Mark to resume mission work even after John Mark deserted Barnabas and Paul in Pamphylia on an earlier mission trip. How often do we need someone to encourage us to get back up after we fall down?
Someone once told me that encouragement actually means “to increase courage.” That’s what Barnabas did everywhere he went and it made a real impact. God is a big fan of encouraging. He mentions it by name in his list of spiritual gifts (Romans 12:8). It’s kind of a big deal. I think I’ll keep trying to be a Barnabas this year. I pray this post increases YOUR courage to encourage someone in your life today! It really does matter.
Pray: Dear Lord, you created encouragement and you encourage me every day with your love and patience. Give me faith that you will guide my efforts and my focus so that I can bless people like Barnabas did. Increase my courage so that I can increase others’ around me in your name. Amen.