Read Acts 9:26-30
Are You An Encourager?
“Did you see who came to worship on Sunday?” “What nerve he must have to show his face around here!” “Does he think we have forgotten what he did?” “He doesn’t belong here!”
Perhaps you have thought these things at one point in your life. Perhaps these very thoughts were going through the disciples’ minds in the first century when Saul of Tarsus came to Jerusalem. Luke tells us that “he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26). It’s understandable, though, isn’t it? Did not Ananias himself express doubt and perhaps a hint of fear when Jesus told him Saul was coming? If this guy showed up at the church building next week, don’t you think you would be a little leery?
Enter Barnabas. Remember what his name means? “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). He was the disciple who sold everything he had to help others in need. And if there was ever anyone in need, it was Saul of Tarsus. Perhaps he wasn’t hurting financially, but this man needed some support, didn’t he?
It was Barnabas who stood up with Saul and “took him to the apostles” (Acts 9:27). He stood by him as the apostles listened to his report, “how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27).
Were the disciples justified in demanding evidence? Certainly. Paul himself later wrote, “Test all things, hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the word” (1 John 4:1). John the Immerser said, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Based on his past, it was fair to ask Saul questions and “test” him.
Barnabas saw that Saul passed the test, and was willing to stand by him upon further questioning. He was true to his name: a Son of Encouragement.