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Barnabas

Another Bible character who must have been well known to the apostle Peter was Barnabas. He was an encourager of others. His first name was Joseph. That's what his parents called him. But the apostles surnamed him Barnabas, because he was particularly good at encouraging others. And Barnabas means "son of exhortation".

When the word of God reached Antioch in Syria and many Gentiles turned to the Lord, the church in Jerusalem chose Barnabas to send to them for their help. One reason may have been that men from Cyprus had carried the word to Antioch, and Barnabas was a Cypriot himself, so he'd be among his own people. But I'm sure another and stronger reason was that Barnabas was the right man to encourage them, and that's just what he did. It says in Acts chapter 11, when he was come and had seen the grace of God he was glad. He saw God's grace in their changed lives. And he exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

And then he did something which showed how big-hearted he was. He knew these new disciples needed something more than encouragement. They needed also good solid teaching from God's word. And in that task he felt his need of help. So he went to Tarsus to seek out Saul. It was Barnabas who'd introduced Saul to the brethren in Jerusalem soon after Saul got saved, when some were still afraid of him, riot believing he was a disciple. So Barnabas knew his worth. He knew he was an ideal man to help the new converts in Antioch. And together they stayed with them for a whole year, teaching many people. Those were great days. And I'm sure many of them would thank God for sending Barnabas into their midst.

The scripture records about him that he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. As we think of his special ability for helping others we realize it flowed out of a life which was under the control of the Holy Spirit. And as the Holy Spirit controls our lives we too shall be on the lookout for someone we might help along life's way. A word of cheer or a kindly deed will go a long way towards encouraging them, and our own lives will be sweetened as a result.