Prior to meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul (who would later be known as the Apostle Paul) was one of the greatest enemies of Christians: “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3). But Saul’s conversion to Christ was dramatic, and after a few years he tried to join with the believers in Jerusalem. However, with his reputation for hatred toward Christians, the disciples were not willing to accept him.
But one man saw beyond the past mistakes, saw beyond the slimy pit from which he had been removed, saw the grace of Jesus which had worked a miracle in Saul’s life – that man was Barnabas! Barnabas believed in Saul, comforted him, and defended him to the other believers.
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”
Saul was on fire for Jesus, ready to preach the gospel with the same energy he once used to persecute the church. But after just a short time in Jerusalem, Saul had to flee for his life back to his home in Tarsus. It’s not clear what he did for the next several years, but there is no evidence of ministry work until Barnabas, once again, found Saul and provided the necessary encouragement.
“Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people.”
The Apostle Paul went on to have a greater impact in the forming of the early Church and in defining Church doctrine than any other follower of Jesus. But if not for Barnabas, Paul may not have ever preached beyond his own back yard. In the early days of the Church, Barnabas believed the absolute best in people and encouraged them at every opportunity. His encouragement of Paul resulted in more fruit for God’s Kingdom than anything else he could have possibly done or imagined.
We all know someone who can use a lift – someone in desperate need of a friend to believe in them – someone in need of a Barnabas! Let’s encourage others today by believing in the power of Christ working through their lives, by looking beyond what we can see to what we know Jesus can do with a life completely devoted to Him, by being the spark which reignites the fire and helps them return to the great race. Let’s look for opportunities to encourage our Brothers and Sisters according to the example of Barnabas.
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God’s Daily Word Ministries
**** Reading Plan ****
May 9 1 Samuel 5:1-7:17; John 6:1-21; Psalm 106:13-31; Proverbs 14:32-33