Someone somewhere needs to hear your positive voice of encouragement. There is somebody out there who is hanging on by the fingertips, full of worry, doubt and confusion, who needs you.
There is a man in the New Testament who was that person, that voice of support. We get to meet him for the first time towards the end of Acts 4 and his name is Joseph.
“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Acts 4:36-37 ESV
I imagine Barnabas was the kind of guy you would love to be around. He would be that guy who never would have a bad word spoken about anybody, who always makes you feel good and brings out the best in you.
Everyone needs encouragement. All of us are prone to moments of despair, discouragement and worry. Winston Churchill defined worry as “an emotional reaction that occurs when the mind catches hold of something and will not let it go.” None of us are immune to this.
We all need a Barnabas in our lives, we all need that voice of encouragement and I believe God has gifted people within his body who supernaturally (yes I used that word) encourage others. It’s like they are in the zone or hitting their sweet spot when they are giving out to others, putting strength in where there was weakness, speaking love where there was hate, lifting pressure off where there was a heavy heart. It’s like this gift just gets activated in them if I can say that.
So what can we learn from this guy in the book of Acts?
Firstly, Barnabas was a giver.
Barnabas sold a piece of land and laid the money at the apostle’s feet. He didn’t hold it back, he didn’t keep even a tiny percentage to himself. He was unselfish in his giving. His whole thought process was “how can I serve? How can I make a difference? How can I change someone else’s life? How can I bless someone?”
There was no showmanship about him. He didn’t place any demands on the money he was handing over. He simply wasn’t looking for anything but to give out and expected nothing in return. He was not looking for any credit.
Secondly, Barnabas got passionate about seeing others advance.
This is the litmus test.
In acts 11 we are told that the church had been scattered because of the death of Stephen, this resulted in many turning over their lives to Christ as the church was pushed out. God always turns a minus into a plus. The Church was exploding all over the place and they needed someone to turn too. They needed someone who could guide these new believers and take them to the next level. That person was Barnabas.
When Barnabas arrives he recognises very quickly the hand of the Lord. He all of a sudden can’t contain himself. He sees the grace of God in their lives and encourages them to remain faithful to the Lord with a steadfast purpose. That’s like oxygen to a new believer in Christ. Right man and the right place.
I’ve had people get excited for me. I owe them big time, they have sown into my life and in the background when no one else was looking told me “Just go for it”.
People like Barnabas don’t get jealous, they get excited at other people advancing.
Thirdly, Barnabas saw the best in others.
One verse says it all Acts 11:25 “So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,”
No one else wanted to be around Saul let alone go and look for him. Barnabas went on the lookout for Saul.
Today we would be thinking “How are we going to cope with all these new believers? Surely they need to enrol in some program and watch niche videos.” Not Barnabas, he hunts out Saul later known as Paul and for a year they knocked their pans in encouraging the life out of this Church. Until, in Acts 13 the Holy Spirit decides the whole Church needs exposed to this ministry, and get this, the Church released them with their blessing. Barnabas saw the need and He met it with Paul. He recognised my role here is a background role.
During the Olympics, there is one race I look forward to most, the 100m relay. The reason why is because this is a team race, unlike most of the other events. In the relay it is not about the individual, it is all about the team. Each member understanding, encouraging, and running for one another. That is what a Barnabas does, they are team players.
The encouragement you give someone today could have a ripple effect that could make a difference. It might be a small act but have a big impact. Give it unreservedly, don’t hold it back, speak it out, show it and be intentional about it. When you encourage someone, the sky is the limit.