His life had become a dead end. A few years back he was strong, leading a fight against a new movement that threatened his people.
But something strange had happened. All his hard work came crashing down around him when, out of the blue, the leader of that movement came to him. Thunderstruck, he realized all this time, he had been on the wrong side! In a dramatic reversal, he began to use his great ability and energy to promote the movement he had rabidly opposed.
Naturally, many of his new friends didn’t trust him. But Joseph knew the man, went to the apostles and vouched for him. Then he had great success for awhile, but many of his old friends wanted him dead. To protect him and themselves, they rushed him off to his home town. At a loss and discouraged, he wondered what to do with his life now.
But Joseph came to rescue him again with great news and encouragement. There was a huge, new opportunity that required his unique gifts. Joseph reminded him God chose him for this very hour. So he left to work with Joseph in this new, exciting challenge.
Thus the Apostle Paul fulfilled God’s promise, “I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel (Acts 9:15, GNB). What would have become of Paul if someone hadn’t believed in him? More importantly, what would have become of the infant Christian movement?
But who was Joseph? We know him better by a nickname the Apostles gave him. Barnabas. “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36). In Greek his name was Parakleisis, closely related to the word Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit. Paraklete. Both these words are derived from a verb rich with meaning, parakaleo: encourage, advocate, aid, comfort and exhort. Barnabas was all of these.
But why do we call him “little” Holy Spirit? Because I found in my research, “The Aramaic word bar (son) also denotes a one who is a smaller version of a greater one with whom he shares the same traits. Don’t you think the apostles saw in Barnabas the comforting, encouraging, exhorting nature of God’s Paraclete? It would be surprising if they didn’t, for Luke writes of him, “he… encouraged them to remain true to the Lord…He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit. (Acts:11: 23,24 NIV).
Some men, like Paul, get the attention, but it’s the Barnabas’ whose selfless training, promotion, and encouragement makes them what they are.
Perhaps, like me, you have had a Barnabas or two in your life. If so you have been blessed. Why then don’t we bless the spiritual leaders in our life—be like Barnabas was to Paul. Don’t you think these leaders get down? Don’t you know there are those who seek to bring them down? They could use a Barnabas boost from us. We can encourage them, advocate for them and pray for them that they stay fruitful and true to the Lord.