by Linzy Slayden
Barnabas is one of the great characters of the Bible. Here is one who was such an encourager that the apostles changed his name to reflect this (Acts 4:36)! In every instance where we read of Barnabas, we see him acting as an exhorter of his brethren. What an asset to the first century church! What would the local church look like today if more people would strive to be like Barnabas? It is all too easy to fall into the trap of running down the brethren, of finding fault with others, of magnifying the shortcomings of others so that our own failures appear miniscule in comparison. Think of the souls that could be won to the Lord and built up in the faith if we would give our energy to being encouragers rather than tearing down or belittling our brothers and sisters. What made Barnabas such a great encourager?
Notice what he did that we can do today.
Find those in need and help them. When many of the new converts were suddenly in great need, Barnabas and others of kindred spirit rose to the occasion. He sold some land and gave the proceeds to the apostles to distribute as they saw fit (Acts 4:37). Would the church have grown as rapidly without the giving spirit of ones like Barnabas?
Find those alone and include them. Saul of Tarsus was a great enemy of the Lord and his people, wreaking havoc upon the early church (Acts 8:3). This antagonist was soon converted to Christ and the brethren were initially reluctant to accept Saul for fear that he might be feigning conversion in an attempt to infiltrate the church and worsen the persecution against them (Acts 9:36). Barnabas was convinced of the genuineness of Saul’s conversion. He brought this new convert to the apostles so that they, too, would accept him as one of their own (Acts 9:27). What if Barnabas had not been so accepting of Paul? Would the church have missed out on the greatest missionary ever known?
Find those who have fallen and restore them. After embarking on their first missionary journey together, Paul and Barnabas return to report on the work God was doing through them among the Gentiles. As they are preparing to return to the mission field, Barnabas makes known his desire to take John Mark along with them again. Paul disagrees, and the contention became so sharp that Paul and Barnabas part ways (Acts 15:39). Evidently John Mark had started into the mission field with Paul and Barnabas, but had turned back. Barnabas wanted to give this young man another opportunity. While Paul seemed to have lost respect for John Mark, we know that later in his ministry this young man became very valuable to Paul (2 Timothy 4:11). What if Barnabas had written this young man off because of his mistakes?
Every one of us can be a Barnabas!
Can you imagine how strong the BBFI would be? Sounds like a good plan!