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"Barnabas: Son Of Encouragement"

Acts 4:36

By Drew Zuverink

"Joseph, was also called Barnabas (which means son of encouragement) by the apostles." Acts 4:36.

I don't know about you but I've been given a few different nicknames over the years. In high school most of my classmates referred to me as "Zuvie" because of my last name. Nowadays, one of my best friends calls me "Lunk," don't ask me why. Then not too long ago that same friend found out I like sprinkled donuts so he started calling me "Sprinkles." I love the nicknames I've received over the years but I've never received one as good as Joseph's.

Joseph is called υίός παρακλήσεως, pronounced "uios paraklayseohs," which means son of comfort or encouragement. Can you imagine what it would feel like for people to give you a nickname like that? Seriously, take a moment just to imagine it. You don't earn a nickname like that because you say nice things to people once in a while, you earn that kind of a nickname because, who you are as a person is an encourager. Over the years Barnabas had worked at encouraging people until it became natural to him. It was no longer something he needed to try really hard to do. It was engrained in him to the point where one of his character traits was the spiritual gift of encouragement.

Reflecting on Barnabas made me question some things. Doctrine, theology, and biblical knowledge are all very very important but could it be that sometimes we get too wrapped up in it that we forget to live out the simple parts of Christianity like caring for people? Could it be that we have confused biblical knowledge with maturity? I'll be the first to admit that I have a tendency to prioritize knowledge over character. The goal of becoming a great teacher captures my imagination almost every day, but becoming a Barnabas isn't something I think about all that much.

Living the Christian life can sometimes feel complicated, and sometimes it really is. However, I wonder if many of us have made it more complicated than it needs to be. What good is all of our knowledge if we aren't a Barnabas? What good are all of my books if I don't care for people? What good is church if I don't become the kind of person who gives of himself in order to help those in need?

My priorities have been off and I invite you to consider if yours are as well. Being right is not the same thing as being mature. Barnabas is what it looks like to be mature. So let me ask you, will you join me in becoming the kind of person who would earn a nickname as special as son of encouragement? I pray that you will. Remember though, we can't make ourselves into a Barnabas. Willpower won't work. As Christ said, "You can bear no fruit apart from me" - not even if you try really hard. It is only through the Holy Spirit's transforming power, and through abiding in Christ, that we can become Christ - like.

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This goes right along with my Bible study this morning. The Bible study I am doing right now incorporates 1-3 chapters from the Old Testament, a passage out of the New Testament and a reading from Psalms. Today’s main focus was on 1 John 2:7-14 and specifically verses 9-11, If you claim to be in the light but hate your brother or sister you are still in darkness. However, conversely, if you love love your brother and sister you are walking in the light.

If you love your brothers and sisters you will encourage and strengthen them with a loving heart. Right now I have 2 friends much younger than me than are suffering, one is now I. Hospice car…

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