There have been many discussions about gifts and ministries within the church. We all know great preachers, Sunday school teachers, elders, deacons, worship leaders, singers and musicians, and we know people who say that they really don’t have anything special to bring to the church. If that’s you, I want you to know that God says you do, and He will always have something for you to do; something only you can do. Ephesians 2:10 says that “we are God’s handiwork, in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”That’s all of us.
However, I want to spend a few minutes talking about someone we all know. If you go to church on a regular basis, you know this person. You will probably know them even if you attend sporadically because they will come looking for you. They have different names, different, genders, different ages, and nationalities, but we can call them all by the same name: Encourager.
I bet you just thought of someone, didn’t you? That one person who always seems to go out of his or her way to tell you they are glad to see you, or that they appreciate something you did (even if it’s something that seems small and unimportant).
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas(which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)
The man referred to as “Barnabas” throughout the rest of the New Testament, was, in fact, a man named Joseph. Barnabas was a nickname meaning “son of encouragement”. I wonder how he managed to earn that name? What did he do? How did he behave? What else do we know about him?
He was the one who sought Paul out and brought him to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 9:27). He gave Mark another chance after he had deserted Barnabas and Paul on their first journey (Acts 15:37-40). Perhaps it was that encouragement that turned Mark into someone who Paul would later call useful (Phil 1:11).
I think we would have enjoyed spending time with Barnabas, don’t you?
Here is the thing. When we look in God’s Word, it is full of encouragement for us, so it shouldn’t be that difficult for us all to become encouragers. Yes, I know, some people just seem to be gifted with it, and that’s ok. We want to keep them doing just what they do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part too.
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another (Heb 10:25)
Part of our reason for going to church is to encourage one another, so look around you. Catch a kid doing something right, and tell them about it. Then tell their parents. Tell that elderly person you’re happy to see them. That young single mom may be in serious need of a hug. Do you know who cleans the bathrooms in your church, or who fills the communion trays? Tell them you appreciate what they do. Oh, and don’t forget about the Preacher, and especially the Preacher’s wife.
The point is that everyone needs encouragement at one time or another. You never know. Your words may be just what they need to keep going.
Be a Barnabus!