Links Daily Devotional

Your Better Name

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16, NASB)

What’s in a nickname?

Here’s a little quiz for you. When I say Bones, do you think of Dr. Brennan, Dr. McCoy, or that guy who carries the clubs for Phil Mickelson? When I say Fluff, do you think of marketing copy or a Deadhead with a white mustache often seen on the course with Jim Furyk? When I say Squeaky, do you remember Fromme or Medlin? The latter was the caddie for Nick Price and (perhaps more famously) for John Daly when he won the PGA at Crooked Stick as an alternate. Yeah, me too.

Nicknames in golf aren’t restricted to caddies, of course. Boom Boom, Golden Bear, Merry Mex, and The King are all players you can identify by their sobriquet. In fact the whole point of a nickname is to identify someone by some characteristic, whether physical makeup (Bones), personality (Merry Mex), or popularity (The King).

One nickname from the Bible has become so well-known that most people think it is an actual name. It was bequeathed by the apostles on Joseph, a Levite who had been born in Cyprus. Perhaps you know him better by that nickname, Barnabas.

Luke wrote in Acts 4: “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

As you read the rest of the story of this amazing man, contained primarily in the first half of Acts, you will see that his nickname was appropriate. Would that we could all rise to the level of being the kind of encourager that is characterized in the life and actions of Barnabas, and that we could all be nicknamed a son or daughter of encouragement!

Yesterday I got to experience the effect of having a Barnabas around. I played golf with a good friend and afterwards said I wanted to work on my short game. He said, “You have a good short game.” But he stayed and encouraged me as I worked through a couple of issues I was experiencing with putting and pitching. His observations about my technique were useful, to be sure, but his encouragement was the glue that made the suggestions stick in my mind.

If that works for golf, imagine how well it might work in life for those around you who are struggling with relationships, with productivity, with purpose, and even with God. It isn’t necessary to offer solutions to your friends for all of those things, but it is important to offer encouragement as they soldier on.

You might wonder why I chose John 14:16, where Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit, as today’s opening verse. It is because the Greek word for encouragement in the nickname Barnabas comes from the same root as the Greek word for helper. Clearly the two functions are related if not often overlapping, and perhaps it is that from time-to-time God sends his Spirit to others through us. So encourage those with whom you play golf and those with whom you live life, and watch them blossom and flourish and achieve as you become a modern-day Barnabas.

Lewis Greer

May 15, 2013

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