I’m sure that you have heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words”.
There is an old story about a preacher leaving a church. At his farewell dinner, he tried to encourage one of the founding members that looked very sad, “Don’t be so sad. The next preacher might be better than me.” She replied, “That’s what they said before you came but it just keeps getting worse.” That wasn’t a very encouraging thing to hear, was it? We all need encouragement.
“Actions speak louder than words”. While that may be true in some cases, in the context of encouragement, they go hand in hand with each other. We encourage people with our actions as well as our words.
I left you yesterday with a thought about the outcome of Paul’s ministry had Barnabas not befriended Paul after his conversion. No one wanted to know Paul. They were sceptical about his conversation. Was it a trick? In case you are unaware Paul used to go around arresting followers of Jesus and persecuting them. Now Paul was himself proclaiming to be a follower of Jesus. Later in his life, it was often quoted the man who used to persecute followers of Jesus has now become one himself, and that would eventually lead Paul to be arrested and sent to Rome to be tried and executed by Nero, but as they say, that is another story.
So having no friends Barnabas takes a risk and comes alongside Paul to be his encourager and help him to achieve the mission God had for Paul.
Let’s stop there for a moment and take time to read the Bible passage this morning and I want to point out some things that Barnabas did to encourage, that you too can do the same.
Back in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name. After that, he was accepted as one of them, going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked.Acts 9 28-30 The Message
- Befriended Paul when no one else wanted to.
- Stood up for Paul
- Reported Paul’s conversion and the sequences of events that had happened to Paul since the conversion.
- His word was enough for Paul to be accepted
- Paul had the freedom to move around the city without the prowling eyes of other followers of Jesus being suspicious.
Here we see action, words and encouragement rolled into one.
Barnabas could have been like everybody else, and who would have blamed him, but no that was not the character of Barnabas. Not only was he prepared to sell his possessions and encourage people by his giving financially but by his willingness to give up his time to support Paul. He became Barnabas the Mediator. His action also showed he was prepared to mediate even when no one else was prepared to do so. As we have seen it was Barnabas who brought Paul to the apostles and informed them about Paul.
Barnabas reflected the one he followed – Jesus. Remember what Jesus said
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9
What a different place the Church would be if more people took on the role of mediator in times of conflict, tension or stress. It takes a person of special character to be a mediator – balanced judgement, objectivity and deep concern.
So let us end by asking each one of us to examine the five points above and ask ourselves as followers of Jesus how might my action speak louder than words and be an encourager to someone today. Who knows God may bring someone into your path today to make you such a person.