Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
November 2, 2014
The kind of people you enjoy being around
Barnabas is a beautiful name. It is a name found in the Bible. Barnabas was a disciple of Jesus and a close friend of the apostle Paul. His proper name was actually Joses but his friends called him Barnabas which means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas was known for encouraging others. When people in the town of Antioch began believing in Jesus, the church fathers in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to help them.
He helped them by encouraging them. Doctor Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, described Barnabas as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.”Men like Barnabas may be rare but there are some among us, men with whom it is a joyous privilege to serve Christ. They are the men who always show up to lend a helping hand and an encouraging word no matter what needs to be done.
People are different. They often acquire nicknames that are born out of their attitudes and behavior. In every crowd there is a “Grumpy” who complains about everything. There is a “Sleepy Head” who is always late to meetings. And there is usually a “Skinflint” who is as tight as the bark on a tree when it comes to giving. Barnabas was the kind of person people enjoy being around.
When he arrived in Antioch, for example, he observed what was good, the way the grace of God was working among the people. Luke says he was “glad.” He encouraged people by being glad! He offered his new friends the gift of gladness, a gift that is always welcome in any fellowship. He did not come into town breathing prophetic fire and pronouncing judgment upon the people. He did not chastise them for their sins. Instead he celebrated the grace of God at work and served the Lord with gladness. No wonder many people quickly joined this fellowship of believers. A joyful spirit is contagious.
While his winsome personality attracted people to the Christ, Barnabas was much more than a “happy fellow.” He had an understanding of the faith and he knew the value of living with the people long enough to build solid relationships. He invited his friend Paul to join him and together they taught the new believers for a whole year.
Barnabas, however, was not perfect. He had his weaknesses as we all do. Thankfully the Bible shows us the flaws of people as well as their strengths. Conflict developed between Barnabas and Paul and they parted company. Very little is known about their disagreement except that the two men disagreed about taking young John Mark on their missionary journey.
It matters little which man was “right.” Both may have been wrong by having a contentious spirit. What is important is to see that conflict need not disqualify us from serving the Lord. Fellow Christians will have disagreements. But when conflicts occur we can seek the grace to resolve them, mend our relationships where possible, and continue serving the Lord.
At the end of our days it will not matter much how many times we have been “right” in arguments with fellow believers. The person who thinks he is always right probably needs to admit that he is sometimes wrong. We can be right in our opinion but wrong by having a self-righteous attitude. What finally matters is whether we encouraged others in the faith. People around us are tired, lonely, angry and hurting. They don’t need
an argument; they need encouragement.
If we are willing we can refuse to let conflict win the day and find loving ways to settle our differences. We can be the first to say with humility, “I was wrong. Let us be at peace and find a way to work together.” Barnabas found the grace to live as an encourager of the brethren. We can also. And the people around us will be blessed because everybody needs a Barnabas in his life. + + +