When we encourage others, we help them to believe in the work of God in their lives and to take Him at His word. The encouragement can bring God’s purpose on the earth and fulfill His plans.
Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Acts 11:22-24
Barnabas had a significant role in the life of the church and his encouragement was critical in confirming and affirming the work of God in the early church.
The apostles in Jerusalem sent Barnabas out to Antioch when they heard of the conversion of a large group of people to Christianity. Antioch is the current country of Syria. There is a distance of about 300 miles between these two cities, which would have been very far to travel for that period. Therefore, the apostles in Jerusalem sent their representative to Antioch to be sure what was happening in Antioch was authentic and from the Lord.
Barnabas being sensitive to the Holy Spirit saw the grace of God on them and he encouraged them in the Lord. This was powerful in a couple of different ways. First, it brought reassurance to the people in Antioch that they were on the right track and that God was in their midst. Second, the apostles in Jerusalem could feel relieved that this is a group of true believers who are leaning and growing in the Truth.
Once Barnabas came to Antioch and confirmed the authenticity of this group of believers, more people joined the group. In turn, the church in Antioch was formed where the apostles were first commissioned to go and preach the good news in other places. The church in Antioch also has become a blueprint in developing and forming healthy churches through the history.
The impact of Barnabas in the life of the New Testament church and His Kingdom is significant. His encouragement brought assurance and confidence in the life of a new believer and a new church. His encouragement and his endorsement connected the dots and helped the people of God to trust each other and work together for His greater purpose!
Suspicious people have a hard time encouraging others because they have to have evidence and proof that someone or some group is the real deal. There is a need to be cautious and to ensure we know who we are dealing with. However, the caution should be led by the Lord and not be personality or preference driven. In this case, Barnabas was led by the spirit of the Lord. From what he accomplished we can ascertain that he had no agenda except to hear God and to do His will. He was not trying to make a name of himself neither was his intent to flatter others. That was a powerful mix that allowed him to hear the Lord and to remain in step with Him.
I hope we can all be Barnabas to someone or some group as the Lord leads us. Who knows how someone’s history can change when we come alongside them and believe that God is at work in their lives. A lifestyle of encouragement can be a powerful force to move forward the Kingdom of God and become a catalyst for God’s plan to be fulfilled in a person’s life according to the Lord’s pleasure and purpose!