by Janet Treadway
If there is one thing we really need in this world, it is encouragement. People can be pretty tough on us, and we tend to be pretty tough on ourselves.
To be an encourager is to give courage to someone to continue on. Barnabas was such a man—that's why they called him Barnabas (Son of Encouragement)! What can we learn from him?
Barnabas was generous. Acts:4:36-37 records that he sold some land to be able to donate to the apostles for doing God's work. Surely this act of love was encouraging to the apostles.
Barnabas focused on the positive. When no one wanted Saul because of his past, Barnabas took him by the hand and encouraged others to accept and forgive him (Acts:9:27; 11:22-26). Barnabas also stood up for Mark when Saul (now called Paul) did not want to give him a second chance (Acts:15:36-39). Barnabas took Mark under his wing and worked with him. Mark went on to write the book of Mark and was later acknowledged by Paul as a help to him too (2 Timothy:4:11).
Barnabas was a supporter. He supported the apostles. He supported Paul. He supported Mark. He supported accepting gentiles into the faith. He followed the example of God—the greatest encourager.
Are we encouragers?
Do we support others? When we make an effort to support others in their projects, we are helping them reach their potential.
Do we refrain from being critical? It is easy to find mistakes in others, but if we're not careful, we could be the one who crushes their spirit and causes them to lose enthusiasm. If criticism is needed, then also determine to point out the good.
Do we seek to appreciate? Instead of being jealous, let's seek to appreciate the hard work of others, not taking each other for granted. Let's say thanks often and mean it.
Let's become a Barnabas, who was deeply loved by many because he knew how to love and encourage.
(Reprinted from United News, November 1, 2003)