Are we being Barnabas to our sisters and brothers in the family of the Lord called the body of Christ or the Church?
Are we being Barnabas even to our families when they are in need of encouragement? Maybe they did wrong, maybe they have made bad decisions which bring on shame even to the whole family. But will constant chastisement and nagging on how bad one has lived their life ever help to change a person or help them to see the err of their ways? Or , does it take love and gentle directive nudging?
Of course there is a need for confrontation and speaking the truth to a person in love, but then comes a time for encouraging and disciplining that person in ways that are not accusative or condemning . Paul of Tarsus for example was a very astute man of his day in the religious eyes of the law, and was like many of today who are over zealous for what they see to be God and His work. Many extremist of the far east, and even those in this country will take a persons life in a second, and even take their own life thinking they are doing God a great service. Of course the Bible tells us this type of behavior will come about in the last days. John 16:2
(They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.)
This behavior is not limited to the Muslim religious extremist, it’s right here, even among some so called Christians. Even as far back as the Crusades men went out for the wrong reasons taking lives and thinking they were doing God some great service. Here in America People have bombed abortion Clinics thinking they were doing God a favor. And it’s not just the Abortion Clinics by any means, just last week a Dr. who was well known as an Abortion, or right to Choice advocate was gunned down and wiped from the face of the earth completely by one who thought he was doing God a favor, NOT IN HIS CLINIC, But, in His CHURCH!!!!!
Now, getting back to Saul, who was so overly Zealous in believing that the things he was doing against the Christians was all for the Glory of God, that he even went unto the high priest asking to be deputized as it were to be legally sanctioned to go out and beat and tie up any Christian he came across on the way to Damascus. But , as we read from Acts Chapter 9: Saul met with a much greater authority, the “True High Priest,” and was given a much higher appointment than that of being a deputy to the “Religious Laws of Man”. Saul met his divine appointment when , he met JESUS Christ! Acts Chapter 9:
1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
( in other words, Jesus was saying, Saul, you are defeating your own purpose, and persecuting those you should be encouraging)
6And he (Paul) trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Now we know this was a very humbling experience to say the least for Saul. He was blinded by the Light of Jesus’ manifestation to him, he was lead by the hand to Damascus, where all he did for 3 days and nights was to pray. He wouldn’t eat , he didn’t sleep he only prayed.
This was no covert operation that Saul of Tarsus had been on in the taking and imprisoning the Saints of the Lord either. Saul of Tarsus was a dreaded and greatly feared name to be heard or even mentioned among the disciples of the Lord as we see in Acts 9:13, after Jesus had told Ananias in a vision to go unto straight street and lay thou hands on and anoint one Saul of Tarsus, Ananias retorted : ( PARAPHRASED ) Lord, I’ve heard so much of what this man has been doing among our brethren. Are you sure this is what you want me to do Lord, this man may just cut off my head.
Yet, the Lord assured him it was what He desired for him to do, as Saul was a chosen vessel for the work of the Lord.
Now, we know this was a born again, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, new man in Christ, (Now called Paul, ) and we know that he went out almost immediately after Ananias laid his hands on him, and the scales fell from his eyes and began preaching in the synagogues that Christ was the son of God. However, just because we know all of this, do we think that he no longer had guilt to deal with over the things he had done? Of course he did. In fact many believe this guilt and lack of self forgiveness to be the very thorn in Paul’s side which the Bible tells us clearly in Paul’s own words buffeted him right up until his last letter of second Timothy before he was to be killed. The Bible tells us, of this particular thorn in Paul’s side, that he asked the Lord three times to remove it, yet Gods response was only: “My Grace Is Sufficient” But seeing as we know that Paul was known to pray for three days at a time, those three times could have been three different sets of days and prayer equaling nine days or more. Now, if the Great man of God, Paul, who wrote 13, and some say 14 books of the Bible needed an encourager to help keep him from falling into despair at times, even after seeing Jesus the Christ on the road to Damascus, then who are we to not be an encourager unto our brethren knowing that we ourselves need an encourager many times our selves. Even if a person has fallen and caused shame and been less than perfect in his or her walk with the Lord, if God says my Grace is sufficient, then who are we to cast stones of discouragement and doubt to that person?
I have personally heard several different sermons preached by several different preachers saying that the Church has taken this Grace thing just a little too far, and both times, in both services I said to myself, (and wanted to stand in the middle of those services and shout out , maybe you’ve taken it too far preacher,) but brothers and sisters if God says ye are saved by His Grace then the only thing I’m taking from the Grace that God has given unto another person is my hands off. The Church needs more Barnabas’
We need to be edifying our sisters and our brothers, we need to bring them up when they are down. The Bible tells us that we are to glory with one another in our mountain top experiences, and we need to mourn together in our valleys. I believe for a man or a woman to be truly born again we are to see a change in the way we feel toward other people in their hardships and pain even in the midst of our own mud bogged pain filled situations of life. We need a Barnabas, and we need to be a Barnabas . The only way the Church I believe will ever come together again in one accord is to learn this lesson from the great book of Acts and to learn to apply it into our daily interactions with our sisters and brothers in the Lord.
Now Paul wasn’t the only one who had doubts. Can you imagine the thoughts of the disciples of the Lord the first time Paul showed back up in Jerusalem? Can you imagine the fear, and hatred, and total distrust the disciples must have felt toward a man who stood firm as he held the coats of those other Pharisees who cast the stones that killed Steven? And only the Lord knows what other things he had done…In the Name of the Lord of course, or at least that he thought was a great service to the Lord, (according to his Religious schooling of the time.) These things could have not been easy for even Paul to forget, and no doubt were on the minds of all the other disciples.
Paul needed someone, Paul needed a Barnabas. We need a Barnabas, we need to be Barnabas.
Now, Barnabas had a divine calling as well. He was born on the Greek Island of Cyprus to a Jewish family, and the Bible tells us if we go back a little further in the book of Acts, to: Acts 4:36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (NIV) we see that Barnabas was already being prepped to help encourage the Jew who God had chosen to be the “Minister of Salvation” unto the Gentiles. The Church Needs More Barnabas :
Here’s what the Bible says about the thing that Barnabas first did , among many other things concerning Paul. ( Acts 9:20 straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.) 21But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 23And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. )
Here was a man hunted to be killed by his own people, whom he was once in the same mind set with, of the same erroneous belief of who God was, now willing to die for what Jesus had now shown him to be the opposite cause. He knew however, that he wouldn’t die this day, as God had already told him of the things that he would have to suffer for Jesus’ name sake before he would make with the message of the Gospel to Rome. No, the time was not come and he knew what he was supposed to do, and whom he was supposed to be with. But, they did not trust Paul at all, and Paul understood that. Paul really suffered in his mind and heart over the things that he had done in his past to people he wished now he could bring back and edify and encourage, and love. But, that was as impossible as becoming one of the close knit disciples of the Lord must have seemed to him at that moment. But, then , Gods wonderful plan continued to unveil it’s self right before his eyes when: ( Acts 9:27 ) But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.) 28And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. ( After this the Bible tells us ) 31Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.
Without Barnabas standing up for Paul, the likelihood of him becoming accepted among the disciples was not good at all. In fact, one could have just as easily torn him down, assassinating the possibility of a changed character, as many times today we are prone to see. Peter was not even about to come around such a man as this had it not been for Barnabas.
So, the same choice is ours also to make. God already ordained us to be encourager’s, yet He also has given us a choice. Ruth had Naomi, David had Jonathan, Job, should have had three close friends who sat at his side, and suffered along with him as he was so painfully scourged physically and spiritually, but, instead they accused him, and pointed a discerning finger and made his pain even worse. And what did God have to say about it?
JOB 42: 7And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. 8Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
10And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
Who will we be? ..an Eliphaz, a Bildad, a Zophar? Or will we be a Barnabas?
GOD BLESS you all.