by Michael Gilbert
“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement),
a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money
and laid it at the apostles’ feet”
(Acts 4:36-37, ESV)
In the difficult task of being a Christian, we (this author included) sometimes forget about the important work of “encouragement”. It seems that Barnabas’ moral character earned him the nickname “son of encouragement”. He was a great encourager of downtrodden brethren, a lifter up of “drooping hands” and “weak knees” (Heb. 12:12; Acts 9:26-27). Surely smiles graced the faces of all who saw him – for they well knew that Barnabas was “for them” and not “against them”. They trusted that he desired their soul salvation – and they were right.
Even Barnabas wasn’t perfect, though, for the ‘son of encouragement’ experienced difficulties with one of God’s greatest servants – the apostle Paul (Acts 15:37-39). Who is to say which man was right? Either way, discouragement must have entered both men’s hearts. Even so, Barnabas kept on keeping on, and traveled to Cyprus – preaching the gospel and encouraging the brethren. His work of encouragement was (and is) a vital part of God’s work on earth.
Many good brethren are providing this needful ministry here at our congregation, often it is “behind the scenes”. To you, we gratefully encourage you in your ministry. May God help us all to be more encouraging to each other!