“…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Our world is full of discouragers. We are not living in a “Home on the Range’ where seldom is heard a discouraging word. We are surrounded by discouragers, void of hope and joy. And when we do bump into one whose life overflows with encouragement, their countenance is like a shining meteor blazing across the night sky.
Have you ever heard of a man named Barnabas? He is a very prominent character in the New Testament book, The Acts of the Apostles. We first hear of him in Acts 4:36. Listen to these words, “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement).”
I recently discovered something when reading this passage in my morning devotions, something that was there all along but that I had I had never seen before. Barnabas was a nickname given, by the apostles to Joseph of Cyprus. A nickname not unlike, Slim or Shorty or Dutch.
When pastoring in Moab, Utah, I often rode my motorcycle with a group of bikers, who all had nicknames. There was Grumpy, Panhead Ray, Bear, Oily Doily, and others. And in the course of time, they gave me the nickname Pastor Hog. And to this day, the license plate on my Harley Davidson Road King reads PSTRHOG.
Now, understand that nicknames mean something. The nicknames of those men that I rode with meant something. Their nicknames, in a word, described their personalities, what they rode, their size. My nick name came from the fact that I was a pastor who rode a Hog (a Harley Davidson motorcycle). Barnabas didn’t inherit his nickname and then become an encourager; he got the nickname because he was an encourager.
When people were avoiding the recently converted Saul of Tarsus, it was Barnabas who brought him to the apostles, telling them that they needed to listen to this man’s conversion story. (Acts 4:36). When John Mark got black-listed by the apostle Paul, it was Barnabas who took him under his wing and made him his traveling companion in the spreading of the gospel. (Acts 15:36-41)
Our world could sure use a lot more Christians with the nickname Barnabas. Another interesting fact is that where the word encourage is used in the New Testament, it is the Greek word Paracletos, the same title given to the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer, for He is our Helper, our Teacher, our Comforter, our Encourager.
Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal body through His Spirit who dwells in you.” If God’s Holy Spirit lives in you, He has already equipped you to be, for another, a Helper, a Teacher, a Comforter, an Encourager. My friends, be a Barnabas.