When he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord.
Outside of Jesus Christ, perhaps nobody modeled the principle of helping others better than Barnabas, a leader in the early church. His name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas, which meant “son of encouragement.” That was Barnabas, always coming alongside people to encourage them. In Acts 4:34-37, we first see Barnabas encourage people through his money: “There was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. Now Joseph . . . who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” People in the early church voluntarily sold a portion of what they owned in order to meet the needs of others, and at the head of the donor list was Barnabas. The inference is that other people followed Barnabas’s example–they were encouraged by his philanthropy.
He not only encouraged people through his money, but he also mentored others. One of those people was Saul, who we call Paul. Remember, Paul was throwing Christians in prison before he encountered Jesus Christ, so the apostles were hesitant to embrace him. But look at Acts 9:27: “But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them . . . how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas was willing to come alongside this new convert, and Paul eventually became the greatest evangelist in history. In fact, throughout the book of Acts, whenever anybody needed encouragement it seems like Barnabas was there. When Barnabas and Paul went on their first missionary journey, they took Barnabas’s cousin Mark. But halfway through the trip, Mark left and returned to Jerusalem. Fast-forward to their second missionary journey. Barnabas said, “Where should Mark meet us?” Paul said, “I am not taking that snot-nosed kid with us again. He deserted us.” They had a bitter disagreement and ended up parting ways–Paul took Silas with him, and Barnabas took Mark. And because of Barnabas’s encouragement, Mark grew in his faith so much that when Paul was in prison in Rome, he sent this word to Timothy: “Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service” (2 Timothy 4:11). How do you see other people? Do you define other people by their failures or by their potential? Barnabas was a mentor who saw people for their potential.
Finally, Barnabas encouraged others through his ministry. When word came to the apostles that Gentiles were being saved in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to check things out. Look at Acts 11:23-24: “When he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord. . . . And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.” That was Barnabas–his job, his ministry, was to help others.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #9: Help Others” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.