And The Barney Goes To...

“And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus.”

Acts 4:36

Most of us have heard of the Oscar’s or the Emmy’s or the Golden Globes but not too many people have heard of “The Barney’s”. The Barney’s are an award I named after Barnabas who we read about in the book of Acts and who was best known throughout the church as an “Encourager”. A number of years ago I hosted a dinner for our singles ministry where we recognized members of the group who had throughout the previous year exercised the gift of encouragement and impacted peoples lives in ways they could not have known until that night. It was always a special evening and one that brought tears of joy to everyone’s eyes because of the heartfelt stories that were shared. In moments like this you get to see the beauty of the body of Christ.  

The name Barnabas means, “Encourager” and to encourage means, “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope”. Encouraging one another is how we share strength, love, and courage with others.” It’s one of the most important gifts in all of the Bible and the good news is, each and every one of us can pray and ask God to make us encouragers like Barnabas. When I think about the gift of encouragement I am reminded of something Max Lucado’s called the “sacred delight”. “It’s like Good News through the back door of your heart. It’s hope where you least expect it: a flower in life’s sidewalk.” Biblical encouragement is more than just looking for ways to cheer people up and cheering them on. When we encourage people in the Lord we do so with the hope that it will lift their heart toward the Lord.  

People with the spiritual gift of encouragement seek to point out evidences of God’s grace in other peoples lives and to help them see that God is using them and that everything is under control. The spiritual gift of encouragement points people to the promises of God. Thats why encouragers are rich in relationships because they have learned the key to healthy and wealthy friendships are “emotional bank accounts” which we all have. When we do positive things in peoples lives we make a “deposit” in their emotional bank account and likewise when we say or do the wrong thing we make a “withdrawal”. Barnabas personalities are always making sure they make far more deposits than withdrawals in the lives of others which ensures the account will never get closed. The good news today is we can all become rich in relationships if only we would learn to prefer others and how we might make deposits in their lives.

It’s been well said the best way to get people interested in you is to first become interested in them. I like that old saying, “I went to church looking for a friend and found none so I decided instead to go to church and be a friend and I made many.” We live in an ever increasingly lonely world and the need for Barnabas’s has reached a critical level. People are hurting, frustrated and scared and nothing is more helpful than heartfelt biblical encouragement. It was Mark Twain who once said, “I can go three months on just one good compliment” and for good reason. When we encourage others, we boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, we lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and inspires greatness for the simple fact, people can never rise above our expectation of them. What I mean is, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain the same. Treat a man as he could be and watch him aspire to be all he can be.”

Encouragement is powerful. Below are just a few verses regarding encouragement for consideration as to how God might use us to encourage those we come in contact with today. You never know, one day Jesus might just present you with your very own Barney as He says, "well done good and faithful servant!"

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Hebrews 10:25, “Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Romans 15:2, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

1 Thessalonians 5:14, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”


Michael Osthimer





no categories


no tags