“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)
One of the Bible’s great encouragers is Barnabas, an early church leader, teacher, and missionary. He mentored Saul of Tarsus, who was later renamed Paul, and John Mark, who was Barnabas’ cousin. Barnabas brought a large number of people to Christ, but he also worked behind the scenes to help and encourage others.
Barnabas was a man of integrity who saw potential in others. After Saul’s conversion to Christianity, he (Saul) tried to join the disciples in Jerusalem, but they were afraid of him; they did not believe he was a disciple of Christ because he had persecuted Christians before his conversion (Acts 9:26). Barnabas came to Saul’s defense and convinced them that he was a genuine Christian. Barnabas took a chance on Saul, who became one of Christianity’s greatest missionaries and who wrote thirteen epistles in the New Testament under the name of Paul.
Barnabas and Saul teamed up for their first missionary journey and brought John Mark along as a helper; however, he deserted them and returned to Jerusalem. On the second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted John Mark to join them again, but Paul refused, and so they parted ways. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus, and Paul teamed with Silas and headed to Syria and Cilicia. Once again, Barnabas took another man under his wing, a man who would later prove helpful to Paul’s ministry (2 Timothy 4:11) and would write the Gospel of Mark.
Behind every successful person is someone like Barnabas. Never underestimate the significance of those who work behind the scenes and who mentor and encourage others, for they are valuable in God’s sight.
Father, thank You for Barnabas’ life and his Christ-like attributes. Help me to follow his example and be an encouragement to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.