The Barnabas Touch: How to Be An Encourager

Gentlemen, we have considered this week the importance of being a humble servant as we follow the example given to us by Jesus (John 13:1-17).  I came across an article (written by Jason Moore) I was provided many years back and in reading it I wanted to share it with you today as we wrap up our week.  I hope you find it encouraging and invite you to take today and the weekend to consider the importance of our encouragement to our Brethren and the impact this style of living will have on those we encounter in the world.  Have a blessed day!

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Barnabas was conspicuous for his encouragement of others. An examination of his life teaches us the skills of an encourager, the job of every believer. The apostle commands, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).  Barnabas illustrates the commandment:

  1. Get off your island. Barnabas was born on the isle of Cyprus, but left Cyprus for Jerusalem (4:36), Jerusalem for Antioch, the third largest city in Roman world (11:22), and Antioch for the world (13:2). Encouragers are not just naturally gregarious people—that’s a myth. The essential qualification is unselfishness. Encouragers leave their comfort zone to go help. It’s the best cure for self-pity and any “self”-ish tendency.
  2. Build a bridge. Barnabas believed in men like Saul and John Mark even when others didn’t (9:26-27; 15:37-39). He risked his own reputation in reaching out to them. Bridge building is hard work and there is always the risk of falling. But encouragers run the risk of seeking, finding and enfolding folks whom others have isolated or who have isolated themselves.
  3. Spread good gossip. Barnabas told Saul’s story to the apostles (9:27), Antioch’s story to Saul (11:25-26), and the Gentiles’ story to an assembly in Jerusalem (15:12). A gossip likes to tell the bad he knows about others while an encourager likes to tell the good. An encourager can’t keep the story of others’ growth or progress to himself. He broadens their influence by telling something good on them.
  4. Lead the line to lend a hand. Barnabas led the file to relieve needy saints on at least two occasions (4:36-37; 11:30). It’s not that the encourager is always the first on the scene when a need arises, but he is always out of breath when he gets there. The promptness of an encourager says that his service is a privilege and not a burden.
  5. Acknowledge an effort. The word of God commends Barnabas as a “good man” because of his encouragement of the church in Antioch (11:23). The Holy Spirit acknowledges him for his acknowledgment of the efforts of others. At least three steps are involved in mastering this skill.
    1. Be watchful. An encourager is observant of the progress of others, however slight.
    2. Be thoughtful. He finds new ways to say, “Good job” and “I appreciate you.”
    3. Be impartial. The encourager never reserves his encouragement for just his circle.
  6. Go out of your way to involve another. Barnabas went looking for Saul in Tarsus in order to bring him to Antioch (11:25-26). Seeking someone’s partnership in a project says, “I need you,” or, “I believe in you.” Both of those are encouraging sentiments. The essential element in this skill is the nonverbal message sent by going out of one’s way to solicit another’s help or participation.
  7. Keep your commitments. Barnabas built a reputation for dependability (11:22, 30) and for fulfilling his mission (12:25). He always got the job done and often exceeded expectations. Over-commitment and empty promises encourage no one; quite the opposite. They cool enthusiasm. Encouragers honor their commitments in a timely, unimpeachable fashion.
  8. Don’t forget your family. John Mark was Barnabas’ kinsman (15:39; Col. 4:10). That surely was not the only reason for his peculiar encouragement of him, but it also wasn’t a reason to ignore him. Family members frequently air their complaints and criticisms, but neglect the custom of encouragement. Happy is the home where mutual encouragement is a habit. Miserable is any abode in its absence.
  9. Be a sympathetic ally of the leadership. The apostles gave Barnabas his nickname (4:36). He was their A Peter and Paul need encouragement as much as a John Mark. And a Barnabas needs it too. Leadership is far more resilient and confident when others stand with them. Leaders are also far more willing to hear the criticism of the encourager than the whine of the complainer.
  10. Always leave people better than you found them. The apostles, the poor saints in Jerusalem, Saul of Tarsus, John Mark, the church in Antioch and many churches abroad were bettered by the Barnabas’ touch. Midas was the fabled king of Phrygia to whom Dionysius gave the power of turning all that he touched to gold. Encouragers have a golden touch too. But they invest themselves in people, not trinkets. And they enrich others and not themselves.

Do Not Go to Glean in Another Field

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn” (Ruth 2:8-9).

Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me, ‘You shall stay close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ” And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.” So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:21-23).

The book of Ruth is about redemption. To the Jews, it told the history of King David’s great grandmother, and to the Christian it tells us where Jesus came from (Matthew 1). Ruth and Naomi were “redeemed” by Boaz. He was their savior or redeemer in a sense. Because of Boaz, the family line of Naomi’s deceased husband and sons would go on through the child of Boaz and Ruth. Moses’ law was designed by God to help widows in situations like this so that their family line, inheritance and properties would not be lost.

Just like Boaz was Ruth and Naomi’s redeemer, Jesus is our redeemer. He paid the price with His own blood when we were powerless and enslaved to sin.

What I want to focus on this morning in connection to this redemption is the advice that Ruth received from both Boaz and Naomi. “Do not go to glean in another field.” Make sure that “people do not meet you in any other field.” If you want Boaz’ redemption, then stay on Boaz’ property!

Take that advice and apply it to our relationship with Jesus. Stay in Jesus’ field! Do not go to glean in another’s field. People should not meet us in any other field. If we truly desire and honor the redemption given us through the precious blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18), then we won’t be trying to harvest the devil’s crops.

Jesus is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 2 Corinthians 11:2). He instructed us by saying, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Paul follows that concept up with the idea of us eating at two different tables.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:21-22).

The exhortation for us today is to stay in Jesus’ field and live in full gratitude of His redemption. Let’s harvest on His land today. Our friends should not meet us on another field. No more planting, cultivating and reaping in the Devil’s field. That means keep our minds pure when we are on the internet and watching TV. Don’t be reaping in the Devil’s field. It means keep ourselves loyal to Christ in our business decisions and associations. Being in Jesus’ field means that we go to Him first for comfort, support and advice.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:7-9).

You Follow Me

Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:18-22).

Here is a discussion that Jesus had with Simon Peter after the resurrection. Jesus taught Peter (at least) two very important lessons about following Him. Twice Jesus told Peter in this discussion, “Follow Me.” Let’s take a moment to see what following Jesus involves.

You follow Me

  • Following Jesus was going to cost Peter his life. This death, according to John, would glorify the Father (see also 2 Peter 1:14). Men, that is the same cost we must pay in order to follow Jesus. And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
  • Not everyone who follows Jesus will face the same trials. Peter was very concerned about another disciple (John) and how his life would turn out. What was Jesus’ response? “What is that to you? You follow Me?” We can get caught up in how our life is so much different than others, and that other Christians have it so much “easier.” Let’s keep in mind what Jesus said to Peter…“What is that to you? You follow Me?” Also keep in mind that you are probably wrong; that other person doesn’t have it “easier.” He or she has trials and adversity, too, those trials are just in different forms.

So, what about John?

Consider the apostle John, about whom Peter was so concerned. Did John face trials? He was beaten and imprisoned just like Peter was (Acts 4-5). His brother, James, was beheaded by Herod (Acts 12). John was persecuted and exiled to the isle of Patmos for preaching the Word (Revelation 1). Some members of congregations caused John a lot of grief and pain (3 John 9-10). I write these things down to say that everybody faces adversity and persecution for following Christ, it just may be in a different form that what you face. Regardless of what that other disciple faces or does not face in life, our responsibility is to follow Jesus.