Two buffalo were standing on the grassy range, when they heard a passing group of tourists talking. One said to another, “These are the mangiest, sorriest, most moth eaten beasts I have ever seen.” One buffalo turned to the other and said, “You know, I just heard a discouraging word!”
Everyone needs encouragement! Ministers, elders, deacons… feel at times as though there is a target on their backs. There are plenty of ‘dart throwers’, who forget the instructions of Paul in Colossians 3:12-17 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
It seems the only verse some care about is verse 16, but there is much more to this! Paul is instructing brethren on how to deal with each other. Look in the mirror, examine yourself. Perfection will not be found. What we all find is WE ARE A MESS! Sin is a continual struggle for Christians. We all continually need His grace. God’s grace CANNOT OPERATE UNDER LAW. However, Law can operate under GRACE. Grace being the dominate principle here for all Christians, as we try to grow in Christ. Do we ‘mess up’? Of course!!! In things we OMIT, COMMIT, AND THINK! It’s easier to clean the inside of the ‘cup’ more than the ‘inside’. It is easy to ‘cast a stone’ while forgetting about our own ‘stoning’ which is overdue.
As we pause to contemplate these and other things, it helps us move from being an accuser, to an encourager. Why? Because we are all growing. We all need encouragement from ‘fellow saved sinners’.
Thank God for Barnabas, the son of ‘encouragement’ (Acts 4:36). He is the one who reaches out to one that no one else would touch, (Acts 9:27), and stand with him who was called Saul.
He is the one brethren send to another congregation to help them grow, (Acts 11:22). Far different than sending someone who is a died in the wool legalist. Barnabas was not the result of a school of preaching, he was the result of grace! (We have many good schools of preaching… and a couple that are not so good. What’s the difference? One or two simply produce Diotrophes, while the others produce Barnabas.)
Barnabas is the one chosen and trusted to carry a gift to needy churches (Acts 11:30).
Barnabas was one chosen by the Holy Spirit for a special work (along with Saul) (Acts 13:2). Why not choose someone who feels called to “set the brethren straight” in every thing? Why not choose someone who will “rake brethren over the coals?” Why choose and send Barnabas?
Indeed, who would you rather come to you? Who would you rather send to the mission field? Is there a need to instruct and correct brethren? Sure! But there is a much greater need…. ENCOURAGEMENT!
How can you recognize Barnabas? He is the one who is growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus and is applying this to his life. He is kind, gentle, compassionate, patient, has a strong realization of his own sins forgiven, he forgives others, and clothes himself with love and peace. ‘Barnabas’ will have the word of Christ actually ‘living’ richly in his (her) life. He will have a song in his heart and on his lips… This person will probably make up his/her song of Jesus and His saving grace…
Grow in Grace brethren! Be a Barnabas! “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).