An old Merle Haggard song, “If We Make It Through December,” tells the story of a man laid off from his factory job with no money to buy Christmas gifts for his little girl. Although December is supposed to be a happy time of year, his life seems dark and cold.

Discouragement is not unique to December, but it can be amplified then. Our expectations may be higher, our sadness deeper. A little encouragement can go a long way.

Joseph, a man from Cyprus, was among the early followers of Jesus. The apostles called him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” We meet him in Acts 4:36–37 when he sold a piece of property and donated the money to help other believers in need. 

Later, we read that the disciples were afraid of Saul (Acts 9:26). “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles” (v. 27). Saul, later called Paul, had formerly been trying to kill the believers, but Barnabas defended him as a man transformed by Christ.

All around us are people longing to be encouraged. A timely word, a phone call, or a prayer can bolster their faith in Jesus.

The generosity and support of Barnabas demonstrate what it means to be a son or daughter of encouragement. That may be the greatest gift we can give to others this Christmas.