‘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 4.36-37From Sam Lomas:
In our Y10 – Y13s group (4:Twelve) we have been doing a series on Sunday evenings looking at New Testament characters. Recently, we spent some time thinking about Barnabas who was praised in Acts for his generosity towards the church. Barnabas later becomes one of Paul’s travelling companions and fellow missionaries, joining Paul in spreading the Gospel among the Gentiles.
Rather bizarrely, Barnabas is first introduced to us with a different name. In v36 we learn that his name was actually Joseph, but that Joseph (a Levite from Cyprus) was known more commonly as Barnabas. This was the name that the disciples gave to him. So why refer to him with a different name?
Well, it’s because this name speaks volumes about the kind of person Barnabas was. Again, looking at v36, we see that Barnabas means “son of encouragement” – what a cool meaning! Barnabas was an encourager through and through! I wonder whether you can think of somebody who is to you, an encourager? Maybe a particular person comes to mind, or maybe, you are in fact that person. If so, fantastic! We all need people who are encouragers in our lives. Just like Barnabas was to the apostles.
I love that in Romans 12.8 the Apostle Paul lists ‘encourager’ as a gift given by God. Paul’s instruction is such a simple one. He tells those who have been given the gift of encouragement to use it by giving encouragement to people. So simple, yet so powerful. Can you imagine how great it must have been for Paul to have Barnabas, the great encourager of his time accompanying him on his mission trips? What a difference Barnabas must have made to Paul.
I wonder, who can you encourage today? Why not say a prayer now, asking God to increase the gift of encouragement in your life?