Encourage one another

The Doctor's Life Support for 26 June

Barnabas … encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord … He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith …

Acts 11: 22–24

Barnabas’s testimonial reminds us that encouragement is a far greater blessing than any amount of criticism. He first befriended Saul (to become Paul, the apostle) whilst others focussed on his murderous reputation. (Acts 9: 26–27) Later, he took him as his partner in teaching the young church at Antioch, where the believers were first called ‘Christians’. (Acts 11: 25–26) Yet, after such a rich partnership, he and Paul parted. Barnabas’s young cousin, John Mark, had deserted his position as helper to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13: 5, 13) but later Barnabas wanted to give him another chance. This went against Paul’s judgment and, no doubt painfully, the old alliance split up. (Acts 15: 37–40) The Bible rarely mentions Barnabas again. From being a front-runner, he sank into the background. It must have been hard for such a previously active leader to stand down and devote himself to the care and instruction of one young person. No doubt thanks to this encouragement, though, Paul would later request John Mark’s now esteemed company. (2 Timothy 4: 11) For reasons unspecified, it also seems that the young man acted like a son to Peter. (1 Peter 5: 13) If this came about during Barnabas’s lifetime, here was another lesson in accepting God’s intervention in his relationships. True to his reputation, he would accept the Spirit’s wisdom and keep up encouragement, even from a distance. So what were the consequences? We have the gospel according to Mark! The second gospel is believed to be based on what Peter told John Mark. So, by cousinly encouragement, and commitment of his nearest and dearest to God’s wisdom, Barnabas would unconsciously influence a ministry which still goes on. His example inspires us to become today’s encouragers.

Written by Janet Goodall from the UK

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