“News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and ENCOURAGED THEM ALL to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” – Acts 11: 22-23
My dad was the greatest encourager I’ve ever known. Even at nearly 90 years old, you could count on him to bring a smile to your face no matter what challenge you were facing. However, a true encourager doesn’t simply mean saying nice words to cheer up one another, but it’s the ability to make a person truly feel better about himself.
Barnabas was a great encourager. At that time, the early church was facing severe persecution and many believers scattered. Fleeing Jerusalem to cities as far away as Cyprus, Phoenicia (Lebanon), and Antioch in northern Syria, the church spread and multiplied along the way (Acts 11:19).
When Barnabas, a respected leader of the church in Jerusalem, eventually met these new believers, he was thrilled to witness all that God had been doing in the lives of both Jews and Gentiles. That’s when he offered those new believers some powerful words of encouragement that still ring true for the 21st century Jesus follower. Barnabas encouraged them to keep their eyes on God and to walk in His will, no matter the cost or difficulties along the way (My Paraphrase of Acts 11: 22-23). In other words, Barnabas emboldened them with the courage to live for Jesus.
Are you in need of some encouragement? Maybe current events, relational stressors, or financial pressures have piled up and you’re in desperate need of some hope. Or perhaps you are still trying to carry all of life’s burdens yourself and haven’t yet surrendered it all to Jesus Christ. Just like the early church, you too can choose to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who paid the penalty for your sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Hold onto the words of Barnabas and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Knowing God’s love and walking in relationship with Jesus is the greatest encouragement you can ever receive to weather even life’s biggest storm.