If we could mold ourselves into the likeness of anyone, aside from Jesus, I would think it beneficial if we strove to be like Barnabas.
Barnabas was a nickname (his real name was Joseph) that meant “Son of Encouragement”.
The Greek word for encouragement means to call someone to your side, to bring comfort to others. That is exactly what Barnabas was known for, bringing comfort to those who needed comfort. In fact, he gives us a tremendous example of fulfilling the command given in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” We are to be encouragers! Those who will be of assistance to one another when there is a need - regardless of the variation of the need.
What was it that Joseph did, and we can do, in order to be a Barnabas? That is what I would like to share with you: Be a giver; Be a friend; Be an investor.
We can be a Barnabas by giving to others (Acts 4:36-37). In Acts 4, the church was in great need. Persecutions were beginning, people were going without, and so the need grew. Thankfully, someone with eyes for the needs of others, Barnabas, came and met that need. This is because Barnabas had a proper perspective of stewardship. Wendell Winkler defined stewardship in 4 points: 1. Divine ownership; 2. Human endowment; 3. Faithful administration; 4. Inevitable accounting. Barnabas knew that what was his, was ultimately God’s, and so he used his blessings to be a blessing to others. We can follow this pattern ourselves, even in ways to go beyond monetary contributions, such as time, service, and prayer. Think about what Peter said to the beggar in Acts 3, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…” Give what you have. Be a giver like Barnabas.
We can be a Barnabas by being a friend to others (Acts 9:22-27). One of the reasons why people fall away from grace is because we haven’t extended grace to them. Not including someone can make the church feel like a place of exclusion, rather than inclusion. According to studies, 70% of people claim to experience chronic loneliness, and this number, though it does, should not be represented in the church. Imagine if, in Acts 9, Barnabas had never been a friend to Paul? Would we have all his writings? Would the gospel have spread as it did? Think about all the good that was done because someone, reclaimed of God, extended friendship to another, reclaimed of God. We can be a Barnabas in more ways than giving money, we can give friendship as well.
We can be a Barnabas by investing in others (Acts 15:36-40). When we fail, we have a strong temptation to remain down. This is no different in the case of Mark. Mark had a failure, he left Paul and Barnabas during a missionary journey. Because of this, Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement over bringing Mark another time. Barnabas ultimately chose to go and do missions with Mark. Because of that decision, much good was accomplished for the kingdom. The moral of the story is this: don’t count someone out because they have a shortcoming, rather keep helping them achieve growth. Invest in your brethren.
Barnabas is an example to us all. I pray we all strive to be like him - an encourager!