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“When he (Saul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:26-27)
Shortly after Saul’s conversion, he traveled to Jerusalem hoping to join the other disciples. However, they were fearful and doubtful of Saul’s sincerity because of his former persecution against the church. Fortunately, Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement”, accepted and brought Saul (later called Paul) to the apostles regardless of their apprehension. Barnabas recognized Saul’s sincerity and was able to encourage the others that their former enemy was now on their side as a true believer. As a result, Saul was able to remain in Jerusalem, join the other apostles, and speak boldly in the name of the Lord.
Not only did Barnabas play a vital role in the apostle’s lives, he touched the hearts of many other early Christians as well. He spent a whole year with Saul in Antioch encouraging, teaching, and witnessing to the ever-increasing number of new believers (Acts 11:22-26). Barnabas spent time with new members of God’s family offering them hope and encouragement.
At some point in time, whether a seasoned believer, a newbie Christian, or starting afresh in a brand-new church, you will face times of discouragement. Fortunately, through God’s Word, indwelling Spirit, prayer and fellowship with other believers, comfort, support, and encouragement awaits you. To have a “Barnabas” as a friend would be advantageous. In fact, God has bestowed the gift of encouragement (Romans 12:6, 8) upon particular Christians to fill this particular need in the body of Christ.
If you are discouraged, do not allow feelings of loneliness keep you from reaching out. Pray to God who knows all and be brave to reach out to others. In Hebrews 10:24-25 it is written, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The enemy wants to see you remain captive. However, God wants to encourage, strengthen, and lift you out of the mud. He wants to set you free from the spirit of discouragement so you can carry out His good deeds.
If you are one of God’s encouragers, a Barnabas, may you be aware and attentive to those who God may bring your way during these upcoming weeks. Through the power of the Holy Spirit within you, may you spur, enlighten, and stir up hope to those whom are in need of encouragement.
Father God, May we purposely set out to serve, help, and encourage one another. May we not look out for our own interest but to all whom are hurting, especially those in the body of Christ. In Jesus name, Amen
Questions: Are you or someone you know experiencing a difficult time? How does Christ encourage you? How can you encourage someone in your life?