The Bible passages for today round out the picture of Barnabas, the ‘Son of Encouragement’. A role model, yet with flaws like the rest of us. One of the many things I love about the Bible is its honesty. No candy-coating or ‘spin’. Truthful from cover to cover.
Take Barnabas, for example. He’s hardworking. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul mentions that he and Barnabas work for a living. Paul was a tentmaker. Barnabas too? We don’t know. They didn’t live by handouts. Were hardworking men. The same for us– men and women, doing what the Lord has gifted us to do. With discerning generosity for those who need our help.
In Galatians, we see Paul and Barnabas as a team–‘…this time with Barnabas'(2:1) and ‘…gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship'(2:9). Barnabas is a team player, an encouragement to the Apostle Paul. Someone he could count on when the chips were down. Paul and Barnabas–like one name!
Unfortunately, neither was perfect. Unlike me and thee, and I’m not sure about thee! Remember they had a huge argument, splitting their team in two. I’m sure both felt they were right, with the other being wrong. Paul was not afraid to air his opinions even with the chief apostle, Peter. Galatians 2:11–‘…Peter…I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.’ Not only Peter, but Barnabas is due criticism.
What’s happened? Peter would fellowship with the new Gentile believers until the old guard ‘Board of Elders’ shows up, and then he snubs the ‘newbies’ treating them like second-class Christians. Paul shakes his head in disappointment when he sees Barnabas also backing away from his Gentile brothers and sisters. Paul lets those hypocrites(v.13) have it with both barrels! What about us? Avoiding someone? Looking down on those who make us look bad? Like I’m something special and they’re not much at all?
One final reference to Barnabas in the Bible. Colossians 4:10. The Apostle Paul mentions that Mark is with him. And that he is Barnabas’ cousin. Mark, the same one that Paul wanted no part of. Now, he’s matured, committed, solid for the Lord. The investment by Barnabas has paid hefty dividends in Mark’s life.
Someone you can think of who needs a second chance? A helping hand? An encouraging word? Be a Barnabas to them. Be a ‘Son or Daughter of Encouragement’!
Prayer: Lord, help me to be an encouragement to someone today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.