So what do you think of Barnabas? You may respond by saying, “Who in the world is Barnabas?” I am speaking of the Barnabas of the New Testament, a contemporary of the apostle Paul. If you have read through the book of Acts, you most certainly have encountered him.
The name “Barnabas” means “son of encouragement.” What a perfect name for him! Twice in the book of Acts we find him standing up for two guys who desperately needed a friend.
Barnabas Example # 1
In Acts 9 we see the miraculous conversion of the apostle Paul. Before his conversion he was known as Saul, the chief persecutor of Christians. Yet on the way to Damascus, he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that forever changed his life. He converted from a persecutor of Jesus to a follower of Jesus.
Understandably, though, the other believers were skeptical. They questioned, “Is Saul truly a believer? Could this just be a ploy to further persecute Christians?” Acts 9:26 states that Saul attempted to join other Christians, “but they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.”
What a dilemma! How does a converted persecutor of Christians prove his conversion to be real? Enter Barnabas! “Barnabas took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles…”.
Barnabas Example # 2
In Acts 15 Barnabas invited John Mark to travel with him and Paul on their next missionary journey. Mark had traveled with them on a previous journey and had “thrown in the towel” before the ministry trip had ended. As a result of John Mark’s previous departure, Paul vehemently opposed the idea of bringing him on a second trip. Barnabas, though, graciously and compassionately believed in giving Mark a second chance.
The disagreement between Barnabas and Paul was so sharp that they parted ways. Barnabas took John Mark with him and Paul selected Silas as his traveling companion. By the way, John Mark proved his faithfulness and Paul later recognized his value to God’s Kingdom (II Timothy 4:11).
What would have happened to John Mark had Barnabas also given up on him? God used Barnabas to salvage the life and ministry of a man who made a mistake. Barnabas encouraged John Mark, gave him a second chance and proved his value to God’s work.
I want to be like Barnabas! I want to be the type of leader who looks past a person’s faults and sees their value and gives them a second chance. How about you? Here are some practical ways you can be a Barnabas.
- Be quick to forgive the failures of others (Col. 3:13).
2. Recognize others as more important than yourself (Phil.
3. Give second and third chances to those who have hurt
you (Matt. 18:21, 22).
4. Make everyone feel important and valuable (I John 4:7).
5. Invite others into your intimate circle (Proverbs 18:24).
Can you imagine a church filled with people like Barnabas? There would be no unwelcome guests, no divisive clicks, and no judgmental attitudes. A church filled with men and women like Barnabas would truly be the heart and the hands of Jesus in their community. Would you ask God to make you like Barnabas?