Are we being a Barnabas to our sisters, and brothers, in the family of God? Are we being a Barnabas even to our natural family members when they’re in need of encouragement? Maybe they did wrong. Maybe they’ve made some bad decisions in life that brought shame to the family. But, does constant chastisement, and nagging, on how bad one has lived their life ever help change a person, or help them to see the error of their ways? Or, does it take love, and gentle directive nudging?
Sometimes, of course, there is a need for confrontation, and speaking the truth to a person in tough-love, but then comes a time for encouraging, and disciplining that person in ways that are not accusative, or condemning . Saul, of Tarsus, for an example, was a very astute man of his day, in the eyes of religious law. Sadly, though, like many of today, he was over zealous in how he saw God and His work. Many extremist of the Mideast, Fareast, and even here in the U.S. will take a person’s life in a second, and even take their own life thinking they are doing God a great service. The Bible, of course, tells us this type of behavior will be common in the last days.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. John 16:2
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
This behavior isn’t 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 in the abortion clinics by any means. Two years ago, a Dr. who was well-known as an abortion, or, right to choice advocate was senselessly gunned down. Taken in the prime of his life by one who thought he was doing God a favor. Not in his clinic, But, in His CHURCH!!!!!
(May 31, 2009, George Tiller,)
Now. Getting back to Saul. So extremely zealous in believing the things he was doing to Christians was all for the Glory of God, that he went to the high priest asking to be deputized, as it were, legally sanctioned to go out, capture, beat, and imprison, any and all Christians he came across on the way to Damascus. But, as we read, in Acts Chapter 9, Saul met with a greater authority. He met the “True High Priest,” on the road to Damascus,and was given a much higher appointment than that of a deputy enforcing the “Religious Laws of Man”. Saul met his divine appointment when he met JESUS the Christ!
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,And 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.And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?And 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”.
And 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. Acts 9:1-6
Now we know this was a very humbling experience to say the least for Saul. He was blinded by the Light of Jesus’ exuberant manifestation, and led by the hand to Damascus where all he did for three days, and nights, was pray. He wouldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep. He just prayed.
This was no covert operation Saul, of Tarsus had been on in the taking, and imprisoning of the saints of God either. Saul, of Tarsus was a dreaded, and greatly feared name, when heard, or mentioned, among the disciples of the Lord as we see in Acts 9:13. After Jesus told Ananias in a vision to go to straight street and “lay thou hands on and anoint one Saul of Tarsus”, Ananias retorted : ” Lord, I’ve heard so much of what this man has done among our brethren. Are you sure this is what you want me to do Lord, this man may just cut off my headstone me to death”. (Paraphrased)
Our loving savior Jesus, assured Ananias it was what He desired for him to do, as Saul was a Chosen vessel for the work of the Lord. After which, Saul was a born again, filled with the Holy Spirit of God, baptized, new man in Christ, (Now called Paul, ) and went out almost immediately after Ananias laid his hands on him, and the scales fell from his eyes, and began reaching in the synagogues that Christ was the son of God.
Nonetheless, just because we know all of this, do we think 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 was the very thorn in Paul’s side, which the Bible tells us clearly, in Paul’s own words, buffeted him till his last letter to Timothy, before being killed.
The Bible tells us, of this thorn in Paul’s flesh, that he asked the Lord to remove it three times. Gods only response was: “My Grace Is Sufficient”. And, seeing as Paul was known to pray for three days at a time, those three times of his imploring God to remove the thorn could have been three different occasions in prayer equaling nine days or more. So. 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 even after seeing Jesus the Christ, in a great vision of light on the road to Damascus. Then who are we to not be an encourager to our sisters, and brothers? Knowing that we need encouraging many times our selves, even if a person has fallen, or caused shame, or less than perfect in his, or her, walk with the Lord, if God says His Grace is enough, then who are we to cast stones of discouragement and doubt at that person?
I’ve personally heard several sermons, preached by two different preachers, both saying “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 and shout it ) Maybe you’ve taken yourself 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 God has given to another person, is my hands off.
The Church needs more Barnabas’
We need to edify our sisters, and 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 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 brothers, and sisters, in Christ.
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 while they cast the stones that killed Stephen? 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 Barnabas. We need a Barnabas, we need to be a Barnabas. We need to be a comforting, welcoming, soul warming glimmer of light for the Lord, in someones life, and not a flashing red, flag of condemnation.
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:
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 4:36
Here we see that Barnabas was already being prepped to help encourage the Jew whom God had chosen to be the “Minister of Salvation” unto the Gentiles. The Church Needs More Barnabas :
Here’s what the Bible says Barnabas did first among many other things concerning Paul. Straightway Paul preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.But 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? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But 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. Acts 9:20-26
When the religious leaders got wind of what Paul was up to they were furiously indignant, and out for more blood. This time, Paul’s blood. Here was a man hunted by his own people, once in the same mind-set with, and same erroneous belief of who God was, now willing to die for what Jesus had shown him an opposite cause. He knew, however, that he wouldn’t die this day, as God had told him of the things he would suffer for Jesus’ name sake before he would deliver the message of the Gospel to Rome.
No, the time was not yet 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 he had done in his past to people he wished now he could bring back, love, edify and encourage. But,that was as impossible as becoming one of the close-knit disciples of the Lord must have seemed to him at that moment. When, right before his eyes, Gods wonderful plan continued to unveil its self:
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. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. ( After this the Bible tells us ) Then 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. Acts 9:27-31
Without Barnabas standing up for Paul, the likelihood of him becoming accepted among the disciples was not good. In fact, one could have just as easily torn him down, assassinating the chance 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 to make. God already ordained us to be an encourager, 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 self discerning finger and made his pain even worse. But, what did God have to say about it?
And 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. Therefore 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.
So 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.
And 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. JOB 42: 7-10
Who will you be? ..an Eliphaz, a Bildad, a Zophar? Or will you choose to be a Barnabas?
She Sails Fare Another Day
Waste deep in the drink of woe.
The light you bring shares life;
A beacon of glimmering hope.
You carry the torch not for selfish gain; But, foundering ships avail.
Stranded aground, gurgling sounds, off starboard in the Captains gaze…
Hips be lifted, beams a shifted; Hoist the mainsail Maties!!!
She Sails Fare Another day.