By: Ollie Carter
Barnabas was a nickname given him by Jewish leaders. He was originally named Joseph. The word Barnabas means a consoler and an encourager. Barnabas was a missionary and a teacher. He was a people person. He loved the Lord, was found faithful, and was genuine in encouraging people to convert to Christianity. He himself was a Jewish convert. He seemed to always be concerned about reaching those who did not know Jesus. He felt it was his duty to share the good news. Barnabas ministered joyfully, and with kindness and encouragement; and he taught new believers further lessons about the Lord. Barnabas was considered to be an apostle, but he was not of the original twelve.
We as believers today can take lessons from Barnabas. Encouragement is one of the best ways to help those in need. Barnabas, himself, was the first to sell his possessions to help the Christians in Jerusalem. He set the example for others to give to the church for the needy. There is always someone needing encouragement. Sometimes true obedience to God will come at a risk. Barnabas went to Tarsus to bring Paul with him to Antioch. The Jewish leaders were skeptical of Paul being a true disciple because of his past history as Saul. Barnabas took the risk of sharing with the Jewish leaders about Paul’s encounter with God on the road to Damascus. He told of how Paul preached boldly about Jesus at Damascus after that encounter. We as believers have to stop being critical of those who don’t know Jesus and of Christians who fall short. We have to step out on God’s Word and take risks, sometimes like Barnabas, and share the good news. Barnabas and Paul both stayed one year in Antioch teaching the new Christians about the Lord. When Barnabas and Paul left Antioch, Elders were left to take care of the needs of the Christians.
Barnabas was on a mission for the Lord. He was selfless; he did not have to be the leader in charge. He obeyed what the Lord had for him to do. He wasn’t concerned about customs or nationality of the people; except for the time when he and Peter became ashamed of eating supper with the Gentile believers. Paul corrected Peter who was compromising the gospel to the Gentiles when Judaizers were present. He was a hypocrite because he failed to put the gospel above the Jewish law. There was great dissension among the brethren at that time. Christianity is for all who believe. No one religious group or nationality has a monopoly on Christianity.
Have you encouraged those you came in contact with recently about Jesus? Are you prepared to encourage others instead of finding fault with them? Have you pointed anyone to Jesus lately? Do you encourage those Christians who have fallen short? [Reference Scriptures: Acts 11:23, 24; Acts 9:27; Galatians 2:13ff]