Coming Alongside

Acts 9:26-27
And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas steps in because he had heard the story and had seen the evidence of the power of the Holy Ghost at work in Saul of Tarsus.  The disciples were understandably wary of this former chief persecutor, but surely they could understand that God can work miracles in the hearts of men.  God can change minds.  God can draw anyone to Him and use anyone.

Sometimes the best way for people to have a fresh start is for us to show them grace and give them a chance.  Where would Paul have been without Ananias and Barnabas, men who were willing to trust God’s power to change a life and then get involved and help however they could?  Where would we all be if faithful people hadn’t taken a chance on us, if someone hadn’t been willing to believe in us or stand up for us or come alongside us to try to help us along God’s chosen path?

The testimony in this situation was not so much about Paul, but what Jesus had done in Paul.  All of the disciples knew what Jesus had done in each of their hearts, what He had saved them from, and how He had changed their lives.  Everyone who is a believer was once an unbeliever, so there’s no need to pass judgment, but to praise God for the salvation of a soul and the transformation of a life upon which we can have a positive influence.

We may not always be able to relate to people like Paul, who have extraordinary experiences and wide-reaching influence.  But what about Barnabas?  He was someone who was willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, to not give up on anyone, to bring encouragement and support when it was needed.  Sometimes the greatest impact we can have on someone doesn’t require a lot of wisdom or talent, but simple kindness, love, compassion, and grace.  We can all reach a helping hand to another to let them know they are loved and accepted.

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