I would seriously stand in line at the Pearly Gates to meet Barnabas. Great name that one; I’ve read that it means “son of encouragement”. I don’t know if his parents named him that when he was born, or if it was a moniker he picked up later in life, but such a name is one of the best anyone could have, especially needful in today’s society.
Barnabas comes on the scene in full stride shortly after Saul-soon-to-be-Paul is preaching and debating in public (something for which his pre-conversion training had him extremely well suited) armed with convincing evidence that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. As mentioned in an earlier post, Paul’s is one of the gargantuan 180’s of the entire Bible, so it was natural that the local congregations would be more than mildly hesitant to receive such a one into their company.
“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.”
I’m fairly confident that Saul would have continued on in his new ministry even if Barney hadn’t come forward, but suffice it to say that such an active endorsement and introduction to the family of Christ went a far way to promoting, not Saul, but God’s kingdom on earth at that time. Barnabas had connections, and he used them, putting his own rep (and life) on the line.
One of Satan’s most powerful “fiery darts” is discouragement. Needless to say such a weapon is rampant today, and is (if you can forgive my nursing analogy) incredibly contagious. When we disgorge our words into the air without considering their impact on those around us, it’s like morally coughing and sneezing without covering our mouths! (Gross, right??)
On the other hand, authentic truthful encouragement (not mere flattery) is both healing and motivating. And though it may not come naturally to all of us, it is a skill set worth acquiring and practicing.
Acts 9:26-28 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt) (Kindle Locations 19450-19453). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition