Here is what God is saying to me through this chapter: The Christians were justifiably cautious of this Paul who was once Saul, the persecutor of Christians. They were “afraid of him, not believing he was a disciple” (v. 26). It is impossible to really love and include people if we are afraid of them, which is why John writes “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John). There was, however, one Christ follower who went out of his way to reach out to Paul and embrace him. “Barnabas took hold of [Paul]” (v. 27) when no one else would. I wonder where Paul would be without a brother like Barnabas who would not follow the majority in rejecting Paul. Barnabas wasn’t driven by fear of what Paul might do to him if his conversion to Christ was fake. He wasn’t fearful of what people might think of him if he reached out to Paul. His love for God and his loving grace toward Paul took him beyond his fears.
Here is what I will do today because of what God is saying to me: Today I will look for opportunities to embrace people who may need encouragement, people whom I may fear or may not fully “get.” I want the Spirit of God to lead me, like he did Phillip in the last chapter, to people who need an encouraging friend in Christ to “take hold of them” in friendship like Barnabas did for Paul.