To illustrate this point, when did you last encourage someone else? An individual is never more Christ-like than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged or forgotten. How terribly essential is your commitment to encouragement! Woven into the fabric of the book of Acts is the quiet yet penetrating life of a man who is a stranger to most Christians. Barnabas emerged from the islands of Cyprus, destined to a role of “Minister of encouragement.” In fact his name means, “Son of encouragement”according to Acts 4:36. In comparison to the brilliant spotlights – Peter, Paul, Silas, James and Apollos -Barnabas appears as a flickering flame, but how essential his light was.

The persecuted assembly at Jerusalem was literally “under the gun.” If ever they needed encouragement, it was then. They were backed to the wall and financially stripped. Many were pressed, the needs were desperate. The comforter from Cyprus spontaneously gave all he had. He sold a tract of land and demonstrated that he was living for others by bringing the proceeds to this band of believers (Acts 4:32 – 37). That is what we might call “Encouragement in finances.” In Chapter 11 the Body is growing and the word is spreading like a flame. It is too big for the leaders to handle. Gifted assistance is needed. What does Barnabas do?

Barnabas searches for and finds Saul of Tarsus (Acts 11:25) who was an outcast because of his former life. Not afraid to stick his neck out for a new Christian who was a suspect in the eyes of the public, Barnabas took him by the hand and brought him to Antioch. Before the entire assembly, the son of Encouragement gave his new friend a push into a priority position (Acts 11:22,23-26) without a thought of jealousy, he later allowed Saul to take the leadership and set the pace for the first missionary journey (Acts chapter 13). It is interesting to note that the names were soon switched from “Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:1) to “Saul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:42). This is the supreme test. It takes a great person to recognize that a man younger than he, has God-given abilities and to encourage him to move ahead with full support. This can be called as encouragement of fellowship.

Barnabas demonstrated encouragement in spite of failure in the case of taking John Mark with him. Do you know of someone who could and should be promoted to a place of greater usefulness but is presently in need of your companionship and confidence? Stand in his stead; give him a boost. He needs your fellowship. How about someone who is better qualified that yourself? You would be amazed at the blessing God would pour out upon you if you would really back him with fellowship. Then there are failures – The Lots, the Samsons, the Jonahs, the Demases, the John Marks. Yes, they failed. Are you big enough to extend a hand of encouragement and genuine love? Lift up the failure with encouragement. It pays off!

A cheerful, encouraging word spoken by an English naval officer saved a youthful sailor from disgrace and dishonourable discharge. During a fierce engagement with an enemy ship the volleys from a number of fire arms so frightened the sailor that he trembled and fainted. The officer seeing him, came close beside him and said, “Courage my boy”! “You will recover in a minute or two. I was just like you when I went into my first battle!” Afterward the young man said, “It was as if an angel had come to me and given me new strength.”