by Kim Starr
Today, I want to focus on Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. What do we know about him? He is first mentioned in Acts 4:36-37 where we learn the apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas, which means son of encouragement. We also learn that Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought the proceeds to the apostles. Barnabas is described as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” (v. 24) We also learn that he was sent by the church in Jerusalem to Antioch and, upon arriving, he saw what “the grace of God had done, and he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” (v. 23)
Barnabas’ work brought a great number of people in Antioch to know the Lord. Barnabas embraced a team-oriented approach to Christian ministry and, despite who Saul had been, he vouched for him, sought him out in Tarsus, and brought him to Antioch. There, Barnabas mentored Saul, and together they met with the church and taught the believers.
What can we learn from Barnabas? He focused on living wholeheartedly for God. His unselfish ministry demonstrated that Christian service is not about us; it is about bringing people to God. Barnabas had a kind and generous spirit, and he gave willingly of his possessions so that the work of the Church could continue and flourish. Several Biblical scholars believe that few Christians have contributed more to the advancement of the early church than Barnabas did.
Let’s try to be like Barnabas and go out of our way to encourage not only our fellow Christians, but also strangers whose paths we cross, every day. While we might never know what our encouraging actions and words will do, we do know that God can use them for His good.
Father God, it is so easy to get caught up in our own issues and feelings. Please help us to forget about ourselves and be like Barnabas: kingdom focused, giving, encouraging, and selfless. Help us to make an effort to show someone encouragement each day. Please use that encouragement to bring that person, and us, closer to you.