ACTS 9:27: “Then Barnabas took an interest in Saul and brought him to the apostles. Barnabas told the apostles how Saul had seen the Lord on the road and that the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also told them how boldly Saul had spoken about the one named Jesus in the city of Damascus.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Have you ever considered the power of encouragement? If you look back at your life and consider the people who made the greatest impact in your life, you will probably find that they were also the people who encouraged you the most. Conversely, if you think of the people who had a negative impact in your life, they were probably the people who discouraged you. There is power in encouragement!
The life of Barnabas stands as a wonderful example of the power of encouragement. In fact the name Barnabas means – “son of encouragement”. May times, when someone came to faith in Christ, they were given a new surname. Simon was surnamed Peter (“rock”) by Jesus. Could it be that Barnabas was given this surname because of his ministry to others? We really don’t know, but his willingness to “take an interest” in Saul (later surnamed Paul) leaves a lasting legacy of the power of encouragement.
Acts 9 is the wonderful chapter of Saul’s conversion. It begins with Saul coming to the city of Damascus to seek out and imprison those who followed the “Way” (faith in Jesus Christ). However, the Lord had other plans for Saul. Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus. This dramatic encounter left Saul blinded from the physical light, but enlightened from the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Reluctantly, Ananias obeyed the Lord’s command and came to Saul, praying for him to receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul was healed, baptized, and immediately began to proclaim the revelation that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.
Saul was not received with open arms. The Jews in Damascus plotted to kill him. When Saul escaped and made his way to Jerusalem, the disciples there wanted nothing to do with him. Can you blame them? How could they trust him? They had witnessed Saul’s approval of Stephen’s stoning. They had heard of how he instigated and planned the arrest of persecution of so many of their brethren. This must be a trap! They were not going to take a chance! If it was not for Barnabas, their doors and hearts would have been closed. Yet, through the power of this encourager great things happened!
Through the encouragement of Barnabas, Saul found a friend, someone who believed in him, someone who would stand by him. In the early accounts of their work together they are always listed as Barnabas and Saul. As they continued, and as Barnabas no doubt recognized the Lord’s mighty hand upon Saul, and the Lord’s purpose for his life, they became knows as Saul and Barnabas. And, as the transformation became embraced by all they became known as Paul and Barnabas.
The old life of Saul was transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the encouragement and nurturing of Barnabas. The new life of Paul, a new creation in Christ, began to take root and flourish. Through the ministry of Barnabas, and the power of encouragement, the great Apostle Paul was nurtured. Paul went on to plant churches all over the world, and wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament (14 if you count Hebrews)! The world will never know the answer to what would have happened if Barnabas was not there to take an interest in Saul – because he did!
What we can be assured of is that there is power in encouragement!
Lord, help me to be an encourager! Help me to “take an interest” in those you place in my life, and to help them grow and mature in Christ. Put a guard over my heart and mouth when it is tempted to become critical or discouraging. Help me to be more like Barnabas and truly make a difference in someone’s life – for eternity!
In Jesus Name!