“Barnabas trusted Paul... he trusted someone who seemingly was untrustworthy... he found somebody that the world had given up on, and encouraged him and helped him to become a world-changer... you never know when you put your arm around a broken, hurting, damaged believer what you might do for the future of the kingdom of God.”
— Dr. Bob Utley
MEMORY is a travesty against that person who has ‘a history’, because it cannot get past itself to execute grace for their encouragement – which is to trust them again. Too many of us cling to the cliché of truth, “You must forgive, but you do not need to trust them,” and occasionally we take it out of context to the ruination of that serious believer who has repented.
Many times a person’s restoration relies on us trusting them again.
For Paul, the murderer of the church, made an apostle of Jesus by the grace of blindness on Damascus Road, his ministry may never have been (not precluding God’s will) if it hadn’t have been for Barnabas’ encouragement to trust him who was, to most in the church, untrustworthy.
It took courage for Barnabas to do that – to trust Paul. It was a risk. Barnabas risked his own credibility. Nowadays it’s recognised that Paul the apostle is the greatest evangelist ever.
It’s clear that the gospel imperative is a redemptive one.
It’s God’s will that the broken, the damaged, the hurting be restored by his miraculous grace – a basis borne on our encouragement of trust (our faith) to trust them again; to take them at their word that they are worthy of this grace that God shed for every single one of us on Calvary.
Part of our role as believers is to exemplify this redemptive approach. In short and simple, it’s forgiveness, whether we want to forgive or not. Because we have been forgiven much we are purveyors of grace much. Because we have fallen short by such a long way, and yet were forgiven by God, we forgive that one who has fallen short more recently.
We know they deserve another go. And, better than that, we get right behind them, urging and encouraging them in the most positive way we can. There is no place for conditional encouragement. We give them our wholehearted support. Why? Because they, like we, have been saved by Someone Else’s righteous sacrifice – they, like we, are covered in the blood of the Lamb.
The broken, the weary, the hurt, and the damaged deserve our encouragement of trust, for which God’s grace empowers. The gospel is Good News because it restores the broken and facilitates healing.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.