“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.”
The most notorious persecutor of churches and Christians had reportedly been converted. Saul of Tarsus had been ruthless and determined in his efforts to stamp out this new religious movement – Christianity. Saul claimed to have changed from an enemy of Christ to a devout believer. Could he be trusted? Saul was forced to leave Damascus because the Jews were conspiring to kill him. When Saul, later to be known as Paul the apostle, finally made it to Jerusalem, his reception was anything but enthusiastic. There was great skepticism among the disciples there. They did not believe that Saul’s profession was genuine. Thankfully Barnabas befriended Saul and defended him to the rest, declaring both his conversion and the life change that accompanied it. The rest, of course, is history.
Barnabas modeled a quality that is much needed in the body of Christ; he believed in others. When others doubted, he believed. When some were pessimistic, he was optimistic. When others were skeptical, he was confident. He fulfilled a valuable role for both parties.
Paul needed someone to believe in him. Imagine the discouragement if no one would be willing to give you a chance. Some will cross our paths that need that same vote of confidence. They are sincere in their desire to change; and need someone to believe in them. Rather than keeping our distance and watching critically to see if they are sincere, they need us to take a bit of risk and befriend them.
Likewise, the disciples in Jerusalem needed for someone to believe in Saul. They were filled with doubt and needed for someone to convince them to give this new convert an opportunity to prove himself. Some might ask, “If we try to be a Barnabas to others, will we ever be disappointed?” If we spend our lives believing in others and encouraging their progress, we probably will; but isn’t it worth it? It is worth some occasional disappointment if some become followers of Christ. Be willing, for Jesus’ sake, to believe in others.