As I’ve been preaching through the Paul and Barnabas conflict recorded in Acts 15, I have really begun to see with fresh eyes the Barnabas’ in my life, for which I am becoming more expressive in my gratitude. Proverbs 12:25 says “Worry makes a heart heavy, a kindly word makes it glad.”
Barnabas’ ministry of encouragement was multidimensional:
- When the apostles were frightened of Saul, Barnabas vouched for his good character and sought him out to encourage him in his missionary journeys.
- The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to check out the situation in Antioch, and he welcomed the new converts with joy and encouraged other struggling churches.
- Barnabas sought out Paul to minister with him in Antioch, where believers were first called “Christians.”
- Even when he and Paul disagreed, Barnabas went on to mentor another young Christian and continue the Lord’s work.
- Barnabas sided with Peter in the battle with Paul at Antioch.
Bottom line: Barnabas cared. It reminds me of the Lion’s quote in that great classic The Wizard of Oz: “I’d be tender, I’d be gentle, and awful sentimental…if I only had a heart.”
Of course, even Paul allowed God to soften his hard outer shell, despite the disparity with Barnabas. In every letter he writes following this tumultuous time, he sounds so much like a Barnabas himself: opening and closing each letter with “Grace and peace to you all.” I’m praying that I can recognize the Barnabas’ in my life as well as become a Barnabas.