Romans chapter twelve verses five through eight presents to us a list of seven gifts that God has given to His people. Why were these gifts given? Were Christians given these gifts so that God’s children could sit in a building on a pew molding? No; these gifts were given to make a difference in the world in which we live. Now; every gift was and is important to enrich the Body of Christ, the Church, and those whom the Church comes in contact with. One such gift was the gift of encouragement. It is my opinion that this is a gift that is needed today in our world and certainly within America. One of the greatest encouragers in the Bible was a disciple named Barnabas. He was Paul’s partner in early evangelism ventures and was called by all; “the son of encouragement”. True to his name, Barnabas encouraged all that was near and dear to our God. He was of special encouragement to his nephew John Mark whom he asked to accompany him and Paul on their first missionary journey. During the trip, difficulties arose and John Mark left the mission field and went home. We are not told what the problem was, maybe he was homesick or the going was too tough for him; but for all intents and purposes this development did not sit too well with the Apostle Paul.
On their next missionary journey Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again, but Paul refused. So deep was each one’s conviction that Paul and Barnabas decided to go their separate ways. Barnabas took John Mark and Paul took Silas. We don’t hear from John Mark again until Paul, who was in a Roman prison near the end of his life and facing execution, wrote to Timothy. Therefore, Paul wrote in the Book of Timothy, “Bring Mark, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” How could Mark be helpful to Paul’s ministry? Well, some people just have the knack of showing a person where they went wrong. I thank God for the Barnabas’ of this world. These are the ones who keep on believing in us. These are the ones who do not see you as you are, but see you as what you can be.
Now, brothers and sisters as I close this article, I have a little homework for you today. Find a neighbor, a shut-in, or a close friend who is undergoing hard times and lift them up. Lift them up in prayer and with your heartfelt concern for them and do what Barnabas did for John Mark thereby making a difference; one person at a time! Oh, I forgot to tell you; do it today!