Acts 9:19-31
Barnabas was his nickname. You don’t hear many people with that name anymore. It means “son of encouragement.” That’s how people knew him best. His real name was Joseph, but the church saw more in him. We know a few things about Barnabas from the New Testament. Most of what I imagine of him, though, comes from people I have known like him.


Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Since we’re talking about encouragers, this is a good feeling. These are the people who know how to make us feel good about ourselves. They help us see the best in our situations. Encouragers use their words and their compassion to bless the rest of us.

The thing is, they probably couldn’t tell you how to do it. It would sound strange or silly for them to try to explain how to encourage someone else. It’s something they know how to do that without even trying. It’s who they are.

Acts 4 introduces us to Barnabas. We see his encouragement in action in Acts 9. Saul was the one who had persecuted the church. After his encounter with Christ, he began teaching the Way. You can imagine if other Christians weren’t ready to welcome Saul. They knew his reputation. Who knows if any of them had to endure his work before?

Ananias struggled with accepting Saul (Acts 9:13). The disciples at Damascus wondered how honest he was (Acts 9:21). When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, the disciples were afraid of him (Acts 9:26). Luke says they didn’t believe he was a disciple.

But the son of encouragement was there. Barnabas received Saul and spoke up for him to everyone else. There’s obviously a lot to say about Paul’s teaching. But don’t dismiss how important it was for Barnabas to encourage the rest of the believers to accept him.

Now, fast forward a few chapters to the disagreement Saul and Barnabas had in Acts 15. By now, he is more known as Paul. Ironically enough, it was a disagreement about giving someone a second chance. Barnabas encouraged Paul to do just that for John Mark, but he didn’t listen and the two parted ways.

Later in his life, it’s thought that Paul reconciled with John Mark. He was “helpful” to Paul’s ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). We assume Barnabas had something to do with that.

If so, it makes sense. Encouragers are the kind of people who don’t give up on others. They do more than make us feel good about ourselves. If we pay attention, these are the ones that stretch our faith. I hope you know encouragers. We have much to learn from them. They help us go beyond what we think we’re willing to do or become.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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