The only thing that keeps many people alive today have, is hope. When I consider this, I feel like most people would agree that the first thing they might think of are the sick, starving sand persecuted peoples of third-world countries. And we’d probably be right to do so. But, we must not forget the sick and poor on this nation, in our State, in our communities that also lack everything but hope. As Christians, we deliver hope in the form of Jesus Christ. This is the best and last hope for all mankind. We need to be encouraging enough to share it.
In my devotional today we reviewed the character of Barnabas, traveler and companion of Paul. In Acts 11:23 we read,
When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
But if you know the life of Barnabas, you know that there was a time, when he and Paul had a parting of ways over a disagreement as to continue to use John Mark as one of their traveling partners. Paul had decided that he should be left behind, for John Mark had left them when they were in Pamphylia. Barnabas on the other hand, insisted that they continue with John Mark. Luke describes the disagreement as “sharp”(NKJV), and as they split ways, Paul took on Silas as a partner, and Barnabas continued on the John Mark (Acts 15:36-41).
It is noteworthy that this is included in the text of scripture. Luke, being an excellent historian knew that this was a significant event. Since we do not know the details of the event that caused John Marls’s departure, we cannot rightly judge the event or the handling of it by both Paul and Barnabas. What we do know is that Paul continued on to plant many churches and reach the hopeless with hope. But what of Barnabas?
The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”. Barnabas and John Mark were cousins (Col. 4:10), and Mark was the son of Mary – and it was in her house in Jerusalem where the disciples were praying when Peter escaped from prison in Acts 12:12. Barnabas went on, taking John Mark with him to spread the word in Cyprus. Of their ministry, success or failure, nothing else is revealed.
So we see from this that Barnabas did not look to heavily on the failures of others. He was greatly encouraging. Some look at Paul from this incident and see him as over-beaqring, even wrong in his departure of ways from Barnabas and John Mark. However, what we can draw from this is that Paul took the TRUTH of the gospel very seriously. And remember, Barnabas, while full of encouragement also had his failures, as he had sided with Peter in Jerusalem, when Paul came and rebuked them soundly for their erronious teachings on circumcision among new found Christian converts (Gal. 2:11-14).
In the end, we can really blame neither for their stance, and as it seems to have worked out to be part of the Lord’s plan in building John Mark’s testimony. Later on in Paul’s ministry, he actually calls to have Mark brought to him. In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul writes to Timothy, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me.” As we can see, Paul, even in his zealousness for the truth, was encouraging as well.
We must be encouraging. Christians are not ones that should be tearing down. Pride and ego often rule in the every day events that bind themselves together into the model we call life. I too must be careful of this, as i am prone to use levity or humor in such a way.
Room to grow. Note for the day – be encouraging.