“After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up muscle and sinew in those congregations.”
Acts 15:36-41 MSG
Barnabas and Paul were ministry partners in the early church. They must have spent countless hours serving together and covering each other in prayer. If the very nature of their relationship didn't set the tone for a special bond, then certainly it was begotten when Barnabas came alongside a newly converted Paul to support his calling. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas decide to go separate ways after disagreeing on who would help them in their travels. The question begs: why would Barnabas be so adamant about choosing a helper who had already quit once before?Surely Paul had reason to keep reservations about Mark. The fickleness of one member amidst a mission trip meant risk of exposure for the rest of the cohort. Disciples relied on each other's skills and craftsmanship to barter for food, clothing, and shelter. They leveraged each other's rapport in certain communities and linguistic proficiencies to ensure safety and provision for the team. Mark's team suffered when he jumped ship and Paul knew it. We can easily assume that Barnabas had a lapse of judgement for appointing Mark; however, I'm challenged to consider that Barnabas was compelled to encourage a brother who was struggling with shame and a sense of failure in his calling. How difficult must it have been for Mark to come back to the same church, with the same brothers he deserted, and remain steadfast in his assignment? Perhaps Paul, in all his zeal, could not see that the same Barnabas who stood alongside a former persecutor (Acts 9:27) also wanted to stand alongside a former quitter.
Sometimes, it is incredibly hard to look past the shortcomings of our brothers -especially when our ministries have suffered for it. We can feel betrayed or abandoned or even overwhelmed at the vacated positions and empty seats. While these are valid feelings, how much more effective would the body of Christ be if we were to comfort and encourage the reformed persecutors and quitters who have God-given callings to fulfill? I'm so thankful for Barnabas and the role he played in the life of Paul and Mark. How different the gospel would have been without them! Let us pray for hearts that would be compelled to encourage; and that it would be for the glory of God and the edification of his church!
Prayer: Lord give us hearts that would be compelled to encourage & minds that would never second guess giving someone a second chance. Help us to forgive others & offer opportunities to those who may have failed us in the past. so that they may succeed in the future. We love you & this is all for your Glory! In Jesus Name, AMEN!