Joseph, 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.
Barnabas is a relatively unheralded figure in the New Testament, you don't hear too many sermons about the life of Barnabas, yet it is quite possible that without his gift of encouragement the apostle Paul would never have got tied in with the apostles in Jerusalem, and Mark may never have written his gospel. The gift of encouragement can be that powerful. It isn't just about saying a few nice words which are quickly forgotten, but can change the trajectory of another persons life.
There are some people, like Barnabas, who have the gift of encouragement. Everyone they meet ends up being taken up in their lift. They're the people everyone wants to be around, not because they've got a great sense of humour or have incredible stories to tell, but because when you're with them you feel stronger, more able to face what life throws at you and closer to God. If you've got that gift then use it everywhere you go. But just as all of us should look to prophesy, even if we haven't got the gift of prophesy, all of us should look to be encouragers, even if we haven't got the gift.
There are four aspects of the life of Barnabas we're going to look at:
- Practical acts of encouragement
- Giving people a first chance
- Giving people a second chance
- Stepping aside for others to develop