Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
The other day I had a really great interaction with someone via text.
I sent off a word of encouragement as the Lord prompted my heart.
Side note: whenever you sense a “prompting” – perhaps distinctly from the Lord, or when a person “just comes to mind,” can I implore you to follow that prompting immediately? Often times, we have no idea how timely a word of encouragement can be for someone. What might seem insignificant to you may be HUGE to someone else.
Back to my story…
I sent a word of encouragement off to this friend, and received this text in response (here’s just an excerpt of a longer text)…
“John, I love you and have never, ever NOT been encouraged by you. You are a Barnabas to me.”
Now, just so I’m above reproach regarding the “I love you” comment, this was from a brother in the Lord.
Another Side Note: With prudence, wisdom, and sensitivity, it should be normal for us to verbalize our love for each other. Obviously, that has the possibility of being manipulated, sensualized, and misunderstood, so hear my heart! We are Scripturally called to love one another, and to express that love within Godly perimeters. Sadly, our sinful, cynical, and sexualized culture has made this difficult. I get it. But, gosh, it was so refreshing to hear a brother in the Lord say to me, “I love you John” and not take it weirdly.
Back to my story…
You may not fully understand that reference, or know who that is, so I’ll point you to the Book of ACTS. He is a central figure all throughout and in the formation of the early church.
I’ll go so far as to say that I don’t think we would have a PAUL without a Barnabas.
Yes, I’m talking about the Apostle Paul (the artist formerly known as Saul).
There are so many verses I could direct you to in order to prove that point, but let me just highlight one of them:
“When he [Saul] came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. BUT BARNABAS took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”
Go back a few chapters to Acts 4, and you’ll see that the name Barnabas means something very specific: “Son of Encouragement.”
I want to be a Barnabas to a lot of people. That’s a worthy pursuit for all of us. Here are a few thoughts on how we can do that.
1. Listen to and lean into the promptings of the Holy Spirit. God is always speaking, so let’s be listening.
2. Step out in faith when you sense the Lord giving you a word of encouragement for someone. You’ll never know what kind of blessing it may be until you take that step.
3. Smile at people. It’s simple and powerful. OH, I know…these darn masks! So, learn how to smile with your EYES. And if it can be done safely, pull that mask down for a second and let those pearly whites shine! There’s nothing like a smile to encourage someone.
4. Extend a look, a kind word, and an appropriate touch. Beyond extending a warm smile and looking at people directly in the eyes, you can also express a kind word such as “Thank You, Hello, or Have a Good Day.” And finally, with sensitivity and permission (please!), extending an appropriate touch on the shoulder or a hug can be a true gift and blessing, especially in these days of extended isolation and loneliness.
These are just a few simple ways to Be a Barnabas. What other ways would you add?
Grace & Peace,