Friday, June 21, 2024

Unlikely Allies

So during the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall. (Acts 9:25 NLT)

If you want to find out who your true friends and enemies are, start talking about Jesus. You will know very quickly. It will sort itself out right before your eyes. In fact, you will have to ask yourself whether someone who turns against you for your faith in Christ is a real friend.

Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, found out quickly who his true friends and enemies were. Acts 9:23-24 tells us, “After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him. They were watching for him day and night at the city gate so they could murder him, but Saul was told about their plot” (NLT).

The writer of Acts goes on to say that some believers in Damascus came to Saul’s aid when there were threats against him: “During the night, some of the other believers lowered him in a large basket through an opening in the city wall” (verse 25 NLT).

Talk about a change in events. Saul had gone to Damascus with an entourage, intent on killing Christians. And he left Damascus lowered in a basket by the very believers he had come to kill. What a difference a day makes.

Afterward Saul returned to Jerusalem, the very place where he had presided over the martyrdom of Stephen. Did he receive a hero’s welcome from his fellow believers? Did they hear the news of his conversion in Damascus and say, “The notorious Christian killer, Saul, is one of us now. Let’s welcome him”?

No. They didn’t even believe he was converted. Acts 9:26 says, “When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer!” (NLT).

That is where Barnabas came in. Apparently he had some credibility with the apostles, because the next verse tells us, “Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus” (verse 27 NLT).

When Barnabas said it, they seemed to accept it. He put it all on the line and backed Saul’s story, because it was true.

The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” and we need more people like Barnabas today. They’re always encouraging you, no matter what you’re going through. If you call or text them, they consistently have an uplifting word.

Then there are others who are the sons of discouragement. They always have something negative to say. They’re always critical. Perhaps we need them in life too. But we need a lot more Barnabases, people who know how to lift us up, people who know how to comfort us, people who know how to motivate us.

That is what Barnabas did for Saul. And that is what we need to do for new believers. They need someone who will stand with them and love them.

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