In biblical times names did more than simply distinguish one person from another. They had meaning, they stood for something—sometimes for the very essence of the people who wore them.
Take the name “Barnabas” for example. His original name was “Joseph,” but because of a certain graciousness about him the apostles gave him the nickname of “Barnabas.” It means “son of encouragement.” What a great name! Barnabas was known for his willingness to seek out those who were struggling and encourage them along in the work of the Lord. In what ways can the ministry of the encouragers bless the church today?
Getting People into the Church
Barnabas helped Paul find acceptance by the church in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30).
The newly converted Saul of Tarsus was, at first, denied fellowship by the church in Jerusalem. But Barnabas believed in his conversion story and helped him find a home with the believers. All that Paul was later to do and write might have been lost had Barnabas not been there to help him find a home in the church.
Barnabas helped the Gentiles find equal acceptance with the Jews in the first century church (Acts 15:1-35). Some Jews were refusing to admit the Gentiles as equal members. They were insisting that they become Jews before they could become Christians. Barnabas, along with Paul, stood up for the Gentile believers and helped them have equal access to the gospel and its blessings.
The church still needs sons and daughters of encouragement to stand at her open doors today. How many “Pauls” never make it into the church because of its fear of outsiders? How many people of other races and classes never make it into the church because of its slowness to accept those who are “different”?
Keeping People in the Church
Barnabas encouraged John Mark in a way that may have saved him for meaningful service (Acts 9:36-40). John Mark had failed Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, and Paul was not willing to give him another chance. But Barnabas believed in Mark and took him along with him on his own separate journey in order to encourage Mark in the Lord’s service. All that John Mark was later to do for the Lord might have been lost had Barnabas not been there for him in that difficult time.
B Such encouragement can keep people in the church today. People are still failing and growing discouraged in their efforts to live for Christ. Some of them even leave the fellowship of the church. Such people can be saved and restored to meaningful service through the ministry of encouragement.
The church needs the ministry of evangelists, of elders, of deacons, of teachers and a host of other functions. But perhaps what it needs most is the ministry of the encouragers—people who will be quick to catch the faltering and call home the lost.
Try praising your wife/husband even if it does frighten her/him at first.
A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, but is miles ahead in results.
No problem is ever as dark when you have a friend to face it with you.
Martin Luther once was so depressed over a prolonged period that one day his wife came downstairs wearing all black. Martin Luther said, “Who died?” She said, “God has.” He said, “God hasn’t died.” And she said, “Well, live like it and act like it.”
Researchers have discovered some interesting truths about geese as follows:
- They fly in a “V” formation because it takes 71% less energy compared to flying solo. So, church people need to stick together!
- The lead goose has the difficult job of breaking the wind barrier, so they rotate leadership. So, let’s share the hard jobs at church!
- Geese honk as they fly. If one drops out and breaks the efficiency equation, the others honk encouragement to the leader. In church, let’s honk some encouraging words!
- If a goose is hurt in flight, two others accompany it to the ground and give help. In church, let’s take care of each other!