There was a man in the early church named Joseph. Acts 4:36,37 says He sold a field and took the money and laid it at the Apostles’ feet. What did that mean? He was saying, “This money belongs to the Lord. It’s not mine. Do with it what you believe will advance God’s kingdom.” The Apostles were apparently so impressed by his encouraging spirit that they changed his name to Barnabas. Luke noted that his name meant “son of encouragement”.
There are some here I have called “a Barnabas” or “a Barnabette” because they have been so encouraging to me and to others. Some have a spiritual gift of encouragement. In every church, there are some who are the opposite of that. Where are you? Are you an encourager or a discourager?
In the OT God made Israel wander 40 years for believing in the discouragers. After 40 days of spying on the Promised Land, 10 of the 12 men sent to spy out the land said there was no way they could take the land. They said there were too many obstacles. The giants there were too much. They made it sound like it would be irresponsible to go in and try to fight these people. BUT Joshua and Caleb trusted that God was with them and said, “Let’s go and take the land, for we are able to overcome it.” God made Israel wander 1 year for each of the days they spied out the land because they believed the discouragers.
Paul told the church in Corinth in 2 Cor. 12:20 that he was afraid of what he was going to find when he visited them. He said he was afraid “there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit and disorder.” Being a source of discouragement and criticism is a sign of someone who is a carnal Christian.
Let’s make it our ambition to be encouragers – people who fill others with courage like Barnabas, and to look at what God is leading us to do with eyes of faith like Joshua and Caleb.