In the New Testament we have history to inform us, doctrine to instruct us, and examples to inspire and convict us.

One great example who should be in anyone’s top 10 list would be Barnabas, whose name literally means, “Son of Encouragement.” He was not naturally good, or inherently good, or legalistically good. His goodness was a Christ-within goodness. The result was a witness of a generous spirit. This is a quality that is hard to achieve.

Dr. Paul Rees said, “God forgive us that sometimes we Christians who are so evangelical in our theology and so enameled is our sympathy are especially hard and unforgiving toward others who have sinned.”

Maybe you have heard of the prayer for the little girl who at family devotions said, “Lord, make the bad people good, and please make the good people nice!” That kind of goodness is attractive and contagious. Barnabas had it. He lived up to his name — he was an encourager.

Barnabas was committed to bringing out the best in others. A good example of this is his encouragement of John Mark which no doubt proved to be the saving event for Mark’s life and ministry.

Barnabas believed that others could change, and grow, and contribute if they knew someone cared about them.

It has been said that the church owes Paul to the faith of Barnabas. Barnabas believed in Paul when almost everyone else did not. His belief in Paul, as well as Mark, proved to be invaluable in the history of Christianity.

Dr. Clarence McCartney has said, “The Apostle Paul lived to write a great and beautiful description of a Christian man. He described that man in the immortal accents of the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, as having the kind of love that is patient, kind, unselfish and full of hope.”

When we read this chapter, the masterpiece from the pen of Paul, many say the model he had in mind was his old friend Barnabas, the son of encouragement.

In our world today the Barnabas Fraternity is much needed fellowship. The membership is open to all those who, with no goodness of their own, will let the grace of God employ them to make His goodness attractive and open to everyone. The example of Barnabas stands as a constant reminder that we also have the opportunity to be an encourager to someone.

What a blessing to encourage someone at his or her point of need!

Dr. Curtis Coleman is emeritus dean and professor of religion and philosophy at Athens State University.

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