Become An Encourager: Colossians 4:10-11
“10) Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); 11) and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me.” Colossians‬ ‭4:10-11‬
These verses mention three men from a Jewish background. They joined Paul in cross-cultural ministry to the Gentiles. Aristarchus is also mentioned in Acts 19:29 and 20:4. He was a traveling companion of Paul and joined him in suffering for the gospel.
Barnabas’ cousin Mark is an interesting story. Between Acts 11 and 15 Paul and Barnabas had work closely with each other. According to Acts 15:36-41, as they prepared for their second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas had a falling out over Mark. He had deserted from them in Pamphylia and not gone with them in the work. Paul refused to allow him to rejoin the team. After sharp disagreement, Barnabas took Mark and Paul took Silas and embarked on separate journeys.
It is important to note that Paul had a change of heart toward Mark. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul specifically asks for Mark to rejoin him in ministry. When Paul wrote the small book of Philemon, he mentions Mark as being Part of his ministry team. (See Philemon 1:23-24)
To his credit, Barnabas was always reaching out to unwanted people that most overlooked or rejected because of their reputation or track record of failure. Barnabas was the man who first reached out to Paul after his conversion. (See Acts 9:26-28) He later recruited Paul to help in the work with the church in Antioch. (See Acts 11:19-26)
It is noteworthy from Acts 4:36 that the name Barnabas literally means “Son of Encouragement.” He made a practice of encouraging discouraged and struggling believers. Just look at some of the men he encouraged and mentored into fruitful ministry. The list includes the Apostle Paul and Mark.
I may be speculating to far, but according to 1 Thessalonians 2:10-11, Paul himself eventually softened his approach and adopted encouragement as a main ingredient in his approach to people and ministry.
Every Christian will have struggles, discouragement and failure. In most cases they are starving for love, acceptance and encouragement. The church and the world are both full of critics, but encouragers are far and few between. There is unfathomable power in encouragement. If you want to be effective and fruitful in life beyond imagination, decide now to become an encourager. Be a Barnabas!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global