His name wasn’t really Barnabas. It was Joseph.
It was the way Joseph (a Levite from Cyprus) lived out his relationship with his Lord Jesus and with his brothers and sisters in Christ that caused the apostles to nickname him Barnabas – which means Son of Encouragement. (Acts 4:36).
When Barnabas arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. – Acts 11:23
I wonder what each of us would be nicknamed based on the way we live out our faith in Jesus. Based on how we live out our relationships with other people, and particularly, with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Would our nicknames refer to the love we give freely and the faithfulness that shines deeply and consistently in our lives? Or would our nicknames refer to the hate that simmers in us and spews from us? Would our nicknames refer to the fear that grips us so tightly that we deny God’s love and presence? Would our nicknames refer to the way we bring life or bring death to our relationships and to all we do? Would our nicknames refer to the forgiveness we offer or the judgment we hold against another?
Would our nicknames refer…
To our self-control or our need to control others?
To our righteousness or our self-righteousness?
To our thankfulness or our complaining?
To our living in freedom or in captivity?
To our encouragement or our criticism?
To our wisdom or our recklessness?
To our victory or our victimhood?
To our kindness or our cruelty?
To our joy or our bitterness?
To our peace or our panic?
To our truth or our lies?
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. – Proverbs 3:3-4
May each of us allow God’s love and faithfulness to shape everything we are and everything we do! May we each be more and more transformed to the likeness of Jesus so that we would be named and nicknamed after the One whose Name is above all names!