Devotional: Barnabas, Son of Encouragement

saint-barnabasJoseph, 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 4:36-37)

When [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. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. (Acts 9:26-28)

We don’t hear much from “Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement” in Scripture, but we do see a lot of what he did. And what Barnabas did had a huge impact on the church.

In a way, I’m like Barnabas. I’m not what you would call a chatty person. I love to write. I love to speak in public. But put me in a small group of people or one on one with someone and I clam up. My mind often goes completely blank. Which is why, when I think back on my life, it’s surprising that some of my more significant “encouragement” ministry has happened without saying much of anything.

The ministry I’m talking about is my car ride ministry. Think of it as a Christian version of Uber before there was an Uber. In high school, I started giving my friends rides to church. It felt a little awkward because I didn’t have much to say as I navigated the freeways of Los Angeles. (Maybe that was a good thing.) But as a result of that little car ride ministry, my friend Mike came to the Lord and became a Navy chaplain and my friend Chuck also came to the Lord and became a missionary to Latvia.

In my first pastorate in Hitchcock, Texas, I started giving a high school student by the name of David rides to church. Again, I didn’t have much to say on those rides. But I faithfully picked David up every Sunday for years. He, too, came to Christ and now teaches high school drama in a suburb of Dallas.

Now, from time to time, I’ve taken people to medical appointments. And again, I’ve seen spiritual fruit from doing this.

If you’re an introvert like me, the idea of being an encouragement to someone may seem daunting. But you don’t necessarily have to use words. Let your actions speak for you. The impact you’ll have will last for years, and perhaps for eternity.

Application

  1. How is encouraging someone the opposite of being critical of them?
  2. Do people feel safe when they’re around you?
  3. What kind of encouragement have you been able to give someone in the past?
  4. What has been the most meaningful encouragement you have received in your life?
  5. Are there people in your church who are not in the “in crowd” who need encouragement?