READING: Job 14-16, Acts 9:22-43
“Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles . . . .”
I love people who are always a voice of encouragement. Sometimes they encourage through spoken words. At other times, they send emails, notes, or letters. In still other instances, they serve as liaisons, linking people they love with others who can help them succeed. They’re what I call, “encourager connectors.”
Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” was such a person to the apostle Paul. The believers in Jerusalem were hesitant about bringing Paul into their company, especially given his history. He who was once a murderer could always become a murderer again, one might assume. The believers needed more evidence that Paul was a genuine disciple before they opened their lives to him – and that’s where Barnabas entered the story. He stepped in between Paul and the other believers, and he convinced them of Paul’s conversion: “Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27).
Think about the risks that Barnabas took. Though Paul had been a believer for at least three years, Barnabas still had to stand up for him before other believers who rightly wondered about Paul. Perhaps Barnabas, too, had originally shared their fears of Paul, but he pushed through them. He trusted what he had heard about Paul’s conversion, and he was confident of God’s work in the apostle’s life. Not unlike Ananias who likely stood for Paul in Damascus, Barnabas played the same role in Jerusalem. The early believers welcomed Paul, apparently because they first trusted Barnabas.
One of our roles as believers is to stand in support of other believers and help build healthy relationships among the people of God. As a professor, I have the privilege of doing so for graduates I know well. I get to encourage others to welcome them, take a chance on them as new ministers, and give them a start in ministry. Maybe you have a similar opportunity, perhaps even for your own pastor. If so, stand with him. Walk beside him. Even if your pastor is an older “veteran” in ministry, encourage others to support him.
- Evaluate your own life. Are you more an encourager or a discourager? Be honest.
- Choose to be an encouragement to someone today – beginning with one of the leaders in your church.
PRAYER: “God, let me encourage somebody today. Send someone to encourage me, too.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Job 17-19, Acts 10:1-23