Can you imagine going nose-to-nose with the Apostle Paul, challenging a decision he made? I can’t.
But Barnabas did.
Barnabas, whose name means son of encouragement, had been with Paul from the beginning of Paul’s ministry. He was the one who introduced Paul to the other apostles after Paul’s conversion. Barnabas vouched for Paul’s faith and the change that had occurred because of his encounter with Christ .
Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him (Paul), and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Barnabas stuck his neck out and linked his reputation to the reputation of Paul. (Remember that the apostles still saw Paul as the one who had sought out and killed Christians.)
Barnabas’ name is mentioned 28 times in the New Testament; all but two of those times are in the book of Acts. His name is usually found joined to Paul’s, and always, he is found supporting and encouraging believers.
When revival broke out in Antioch, and Gentiles were coming to Christ, the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to check things out. He not only verified the teaching, he joined in.
Acts 11: 23 Who, when he (Barnabas) came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Barnabas was a good man, and he was a bold witness for Jesus. He travelled with Paul on his first missionary journey after being anointed by the apostles. He was referred to as a prophet and teacher (Acts 13:1). He was with Paul when Paul spoke to the Grecians and when He was stoned in Acts 14.
My favorite story about Barnabas, though, involves a disagreement he had with Paul in Acts 15. On an earlier journey, they had taken a young man by the name of John Mark with them. Sometime during the trip, John Mark left and went home. This evidently did not sit well with Paul.
Sometime later, Paul and Barnabas prepared to go back and encourage the new believers that had come to the Lord. Barnabas suggested they take John Mark with them. This is what happened:
Acts 15:38 But Paul thought not good to take him (John Mark) with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
Why is this my favorite story? Here I see the heart of Barnabas. He was not willing to give up on John Mark because of his earlier failure. He believed that John Mark was worth taking another chance on. So much so, that he stood up to Paul regarding Paul’s dismissal of Mark. He then made John Mark his partner in evangelism in lieu of Paul.
This John Mark that Barnabas stuck his neck out for was the Mark who wrote the second gospel of the New Testament. While we read only two passing references about Barnabas after Acts 15, Paul later referred to Mark’s active service in II Timothy 4:11.
Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
Mark, who had failed, was now a profitable minister. Why? I believe that Mark’s growth in the Lord was largely due to the encouragement and teaching of Barnabas.
Son of Encouragement describes Barnabas’ ministry. He took the immature and the untested and he nurtured them along in the faith. He set an example for me.
I can choose to encourage rather than condemn. I can choose to lift up rather than criticize. (After all, God has not appointed me to be the quality control manager of the world.) I can choose to support and teach those around me.
I can choose to be a Barnabas.
Acts 20:35 I have shown you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
I Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Photo – Posed Anhinga, Eddy Mims