“Back in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.” Acts 9:26-27
imagine the most notorious persecutor of the churches, the Osama Bin Laden of his day. Saul of Tarsus, who had been ruthless and determined in his efforts to stamp out this new religious movement called Christianity. Now he claimed to have changed from an enemy of Christ to a devout believer. Could he be trusted? He no doubt was looking for fellowship with the disciples. In Damascus he was hated by the Jews, who sought to kill him, and now in Jerusalem he is shunned by the disciples. The reason the disciples shunned him was the fact that they doubted his conversion. There was great skepticism among the disciples. They did not believe that Saul’s profession was genuine. Thankfully Barnabas befriended Saul and defended him to the rest, declaring both his conversion and the life change that accompanied it. The rest, of course, is history.
We see Barnabas again modelling a quality that is much needed in the body of Christ; he believed in others by giving them a chance. When others doubted, he believed. When some were pessimistic, he was optimistic. When others were skeptical, he was confident. He fulfilled a valuable role for both parties. Paul needed someone to believe in him. Imagine the discouragement if no one would be willing to give you a chance. Some will cross our paths that need that same vote of confidence.
There are many people who are sincere in their desire to change; and need someone to believe in them. Rather than keeping our distance and watching critically to see if they are sincere, they need us to take a bit of risk and befriend them. Some might ask, ” what If we try to be a Barnabas to others, and get disappointed?” If we spend our lives believing in others and encouraging their progress, we probably will; but isn’t it worth it? It is worth some occasional disappointment if some become followers of Christ. Be willing, for Jesus’ sake, to believe in others.
I Declare: Lord today, help me to encourage someone into knowing and loving you. I refuse to be doubtful and critical of other peoples dealings with you, so help me God.
Ignite Thought: Be generous with praise and cautious with criticism. Be a practitioner of encouragement not a pretender.