You’ve probably got a favorite Bible character.
Maybe it’s Abraham, David, or Paul. Or perhaps Hannah, Sarah, or Mary.
But if Barnabas isn’t on your list, I think you should add him.
We don’t know as much about him as we do some of the others, but every time his name appears in Acts, he’s helping someone.
In your devotional today, reflect on this passage (the first time he’s mentioned):
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:32-37).
I like to think about the fact that his real name was Joseph, but no one called him that anymore. The apostles had given him a nickname.
They called him “The Encourager.”
Some folks out there aren’t any fun to be around. Maybe you know The Discourager or The Criticizer, or their cousins Mr. Self-Absorbed and Mrs. Grumpy.
But Barnabas was different from most people, so his friends re-named him.
What kind of guy must he have been to lead them to call him “The Encourager”?
I think the answer is simple.
In today’s text there’s a need, and Barnabas has the resources to meet that need, so he does it. No fanfare or hoopla. He didn’t expect a parade to be planned in his honor.
He just did what needed to be done.
People needed food, so he sold some land and gave the money to the church to be distributed to those who needed it.
I doubt this was the first time this had happened. The apostles had noticed a pattern—wherever Barnabas went, he encouraged people, met needs, served, helped. Wherever he went, smiles followed.
This should probably make us think: if the people who knew us the best gave us a nickname based on our pattern of behavior, what would they call us?