The Church needs more people like Barnabas – more “sons of encouragement” (cf. Acts 4:36). We need more people who, like Barnabas, are self-sacrificing (cf. Acts 4:37), are willing to stand up for their brethren (cf. Acts 9:26-27), are encouraging (cf. Acts 11:22-24), and are able to always see the goodness in people (cf. Acts 15:37-39).
You can always spot a Barnabas because they’re always trying to bring out the best in people, they work hard, they don’t need to be praised for their efforts, and they always want peace.
We need more Barnabases in the Church.
But modern-day Barnabases need to learn from his mistake. Barnabas was so eager to please everyone that he, at least once, compromised his convictions.
To make a long story short, Barnabas wanted to satisfy the Judaizers so much that he was willing to withdraw table fellowship from Gentile-Christian converts (Gal. 2:11-14). It seems he separated himself from the very people he was ministering to so enthusiastically, just to try to make everyone happy.
The point is, sometimes it isn’t possible to make everyone happy without seriously compromising the truth.
There comes a time when we cannot support or embrace someone because of their practice of error. We cannot give people the ‘everything-is-going-to-be-okay’ hug when they are teaching or doing things which contradict the perfect gospel of Christ. The fact of the matter is this: everything isn’t going to be okay so long as they aren’t “walking in the light” (1 John 1:7).
Sometimes Barnabases need to be more like Paul in recognizing sin as “sin” (Gal. 2:11, 14). Sometimes people are simply wrong, and Christians cannot wink at error or sin.
Let’s practically illustrate this point:
- How many times do preachers avoid controversial issues because they don’t want to upset anyone?
- How many times do elders avoid protecting the Bride of Christ because they’re afraid someone might leave?
- How many times do members allow sister So-n-So to gossip because they don’t want to anger her by asking her to stop?
- How many times do spouses sweep sin under the rug because they want to ‘preserve the peace’ in their home?
- How many times do parents make compromises so their children can ‘fit in’ with other children?
- How many times do teens compromise on what is righteous recreation because they don’t want to lose the influence they have on their friends?
Like Barnabas, we need to “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor. 14:12). But Jesus doesn’t want us to attempt to build up the church at the expense of holiness. When we do that, we’re not actually building up the church – we’re tearing it down.
Question: Where do you draw the line between encouraging people and encouraging their sin?
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