Bible Study

Is True Encouragement Investing in the Lives of Others?

Anything that we do to help, and spur each other on, in our journey of faith is an act of encouragement. Kind and thoughtful words can be a blessing but to have a lasting effect, our words and our actions need to point to the Lord. Sometimes it is simply the practical things that we can do for each other that have more of an impact.

What does the phrase ‘investing in the lives of others’ mean to you?

The definition of invest, is to put money or time into something or someone with the hope and expectation that there will be a profitable return. God’s ways, though, are so different. His word teaches us that we are to give and serve others without expecting anything in return.

Barnabas in the Bible

In Acts 4 we are introduced to Barnabas the ‘son of encouragement’ who demonstrated that true encouragement flows with generosity. Then a couple of years later in Acts 9 we see that he is willing to take a risk to show encouragement when he reaches out in friendship to Saul.

Now in Acts 11 we’ve moved on 4-5 years. The gospel has spread out from Jerusalem, due to the persecution of the church many believers have left the city. In the towns where they settled, they shared the gospel. Some men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch, at that time a Greek city, and they began to share their faith with the locals there – this was significant, because these people were Gentiles. A great number of people believed and turned to the Lord – and they were being blessed. The news of what was happening travels back to the church in Jerusalem – and the leaders there wanted to know more!

Is true encouragement investing in the life of others? Group of people sitting together on a deck looking out to sea.
Is true encouragement investing in the life of others?

Barnabas had a good reputation among the church in Jerusalem and when they needed to send someone to investigate, someone without prejudice, who would be able to view the situation impartially, they turn to him. He was willing to travel, and to put himself out to serve the leaders in this way.

Antioch was approximately 300 miles North of Jerusalem and whether you enjoy travelling now, or not, it was a whole different undertaking in the first century. Would you be prepared to walk that far? The average walking rate was 20 miles a day – so Barnabas could get to Antioch in about 15 days…

Investing in Others

When Barnabas arrived in Antioch and saw what God was doing, he was glad for the people there and encouraged them in the faith “to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts”.  This is the only time in scripture that we have a quote of Barnabas speaking ‘encouraging words’ –  words of true encouragement which point people to the Lord!

Barnabas realised that there was a need for teaching in this new ‘church’ and he remembered Saul, who loved to preach the gospel. Saul had left Jerusalem about five years earlier, for his own safety, and gone back to his hometown of Tarsus. And so Barnabas is willing to travel further, back on the road to Tarsus to find Saul and bring him to Antioch. Barnabas did not look for self-promotion, but looked at how the need in this new fellowship of believers could be best met. He considered others above himself.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Philippians 2:3-4 MSG

Barnabas – A True Friend to Saul

Barnabas was willing to invest in the lives of others – to put in time and effort to encourage the new believers in Antioch, but also to ‘remember’ Saul – who would be ideally suited for this new work, as God had chosen him to be a ‘light to the Gentiles’.

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else – Booker T Washington

It was here in Antioch, as Barnabas and Saul co-worked together, for over a year, that they experienced a real time of peace and blessing. The new church was hospitable towards them and they taught a substantial crowd – a time of stability and friendship. Barnabas was blessed for his willingness to serve faithfully, in whatever task came next!

God reveals His plans to us one step at a time.

“We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.”

Proverbs 16:9 MSG

When Barnabas took a risk five years previously to reach out to Saul and offer him friendship he had no idea of the significance. When he set off for Antioch, to report on what was happening there, he had no idea of where it would lead. He willingly invested in the lives of others and at the same time God was investing His plans and purposes in him. As he served God faithfully in what was before him, God broadened his service, new opportunities came his way, and his ministry also grew.

The move to Antioch would be significant for both Barnabas and Saul – later on it would be from here that their ministry would develop further, and they would be sent out together, as missionaries to Cyprus….

14 thoughts on “Is True Encouragement Investing in the Lives of Others?”

  1. I love Barnabas’ character. We too are called to encourage on a daily basis. Putting the needs of others above ours. And, like Barnabas, when we do not seek fortune or fame, God will give us a true return on investment. Beautiful post.

    1. I think they are particularly direct in the Message translation! And I agree sometimes we need a little discomfort to stir us…Thanks for reading and responding. 🙂

  2. This is something that’s so needed in Church today. May God help us reach out and bless others in ways that impact them for years to come. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you!

  3. This is great!! Barnabas’s encouraging nature was fueled by humility and the desire to see God be made known. May we encourage and pour into others praying that God is made known and not ourselves.

  4. I always enjoy getting the Message version of a verse. And imagine how tough it would have been for Paul to get established in ministry without Barnabas’s stamp if approval! Our world needs more “sons of encouragement. “

    1. Yes so true! I love the story of Barnabas because we get a glimpse of God weaving things together and how sometimes the small actions are so significant. Thanks for reading and responding.

Leave a Reply