Today’s reading is in Acts 11:25. It is the story of a man most of us know very little about. It is about a disciple whose name was Barnabas, which meant, “Son of encouragement.” He was sent to oversee a great move of God that was taking place among the Gentiles. This was something new to the early church, since all of the early disciples were all Jewish. We are told that Barnabas went and ‘sought out Saul’ and brought him along to help in this new work. It was this effort of reaching out to Saul and discipling him that changed Saul’s life. It was because Barnabas used his gift of encouragement that Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, was used by God to write thirteen books of the New Testament and plant churches all throughout Asia and parts of Europe.
It seemed that Barnabas had almost a sixth sense when it came to recognizing people’s value. He saw something new and possible for a new convert whose name was Saul, and took the risk of giving him a go when others only wanted to write him off. Barnabas saw what others couldn’t see, or perhaps what others refused to see, because of their prejudice. He saw through a different lens. He saw color when others only saw black and white. Two different times, in scripture, we find him standing beside the new convert, Saul, when he needed a friend.
Barnabas learned to see the good in people but he learned it from his Lord, Jesus Christ. When you study the life of Jesus you see Him standing by people that others rejected. Jesus saw the good in the woman who was an adulteress in John 8. Jesus saw the good in Zacchaeus, the little man that everyone loved to hate in Luke 19. Jesus saw the good in Matthew, the man that all Jewish people saw as a traitor because he collected taxes for the Romans. Jesus saw the good in the woman at the well who had five husbands and live in boyfriend.
Christianity is a faith built on second chances. Do you see the good in others or do you only see their short comings? Are you quick to judge others or slow to judge them? Are you willing to give someone another chance after they may have failed you? This is a great time to be an encourager. You never know the impact of an encouraging word or the impact you can have on a person by believing in them and encouraging them, especially in the things of God.
There was a young Sunday school teacher once named Edward Kimball. He was somewhat timid, but he desired to be obedient to the Lord. He had a heart for evangelism. He had a young man of about 18 in one of his classes once. This boy was not the brightest in the class but Edward sensed that he really needed the gospel. He went to his place of business, where this man was selling shoes and shared the gospel with him. He received Christ. His name was Dwight L. Moody. He would later be a Sunday school teacher himself, and go on to give his life to full time ministry becoming one of the greatest evangelists of the 19th Century. A timid teacher spiritually influenced a young man who would later spiritually influence thousands of souls.
You may not ever be famous. You may not ever be the president, or a general or a movie star or a millionaire, but you can make a difference in this world. How? Be an encourager. Look for the good in others. You may never know the impact you have on a person by believing in them or encouraging them, but it can have powerful influence on them and will ultimately help to advance the Kingdom of God.