Cheeks reminds me of a great man in the Bible that not everyone knows about but yet is responsible for some of the greatest Biblical texts such as Romans and Ephesians. While those scriptures and others were actually written by the Apostle Paul, it was the encouraging man, Barnabas, who stepped out of his comfort zone and brought Paul into the ministry. If it was not for Barnabas, evangelism, first century church plants, discipleship, and a big chunk of the New Testament might never have been written.
Years later Paul exhorted the church and us today to “encourage and build one another up” and I can’t help but wonder if Barnabas was the one who put that DNA into the apostle.
In looking at Barnabas in the book of Acts we can see that he was personally making financial sacrifices for the church as early as chapter Acts 4:36-37 and actually could have been risking his own life in chapter 9:27 when he extended the hand of fellowship to Paul when few others would because of fear. They knew Paul’s history of persecuting Christians and it was a huge risk to think that Paul really had changed.
It was Barnabas again in chapter 11 and 13:2-3 who reached out to get Paul in the game. Barnabas also didn’t care who got the glory as from there on out Paul was always listed first in the reports. This concern for others was not simply one of a personal friendship with Paul, but rather something that Barnabas carried into the lives of many others as well. In Acts 15 a young man is on the scene named Mark who had blown a ministry opportunity earlier. Because of Mark’s mistakes, Paul had a mind to forget him. Move on without him. Barnabas on the other hand had seen the God given potential in the young man and gave him another chance which ultimately pulled Barnabas out of the spotlight for the remainder of the book of Acts. However, for Mark, the patience of Barnabas paid off and at the end of Paul’s life he acknowledges Mark’s usefulness in the Kingdom.
One simple man, Barnabas, set out to strengthen others and the world was no longer the same. I can think of some men who have strengthened me. What about you? Who is it that you might be able to encourage today? Instead of criticizing others and going along with the cultural flow of negativity, could we make a conscious effort this week to reach out of our comfort zone as Marked Men to bring the encouragement that so many desperately need?
Can you remember how you were encouraged in your Phase 1 or Phase 2? What about your weekly Phase 3 gathering? Now that we’ve been encouraged, who can we reach out to with our words and actions? Imagine what a change would come about when we begin to truly strengthen one another! Imagine what future “Pauls” are out there just waiting for you to put your arm around them and just say; “You can do this!”
Be strong, Be strong, STRENGTHEN ONE ANOTHER!