But Barnabas took [Paul] and brought him to the apostles. ~ Acts 9:27a
READING: Philemon I: 8-16
When Barnabas first heard about Paul’s conversion, he probably felt some initial scepticism along with other disciples. However, Barnabas stood successful although the Eleven failed.
When Onesimus repented, Paul sent a special letter to Philemon asking him to recognize the repentance of Onesimus. Philemon might have had a strong personality, which made Paul send a note. Paul urged Philemon to accept Onesimus as his colleague in God’s mission.
Sometimes we must consider the repentance of someone who has been detrimental for us in the ministry. Paul had the same problem years before when John Mark was proposed by Barnabas to join their second mission trip.(Barnabas had probably heard John’s confession, repenting of his earlier misbehavior.) Paul vehemently rejected the proposal, but commended John Mark’s reliability some years later.
When David repented, Nathan was willing to recognize it. Jesus recognized Peter’s repentance and entrusted the shepherding ministry into his hand. Recognizing others’ repentance is essential as we labor in church planting efforts.
Sometimes our judgments might not be correct. Still we need to acknowledge the repentance of others. This is an act of distributing God’s mercies. If we lived in a perfect world, no one would injure or abuse or treat unfairly other people. We live in an imperfect world where a perfect Body needs to be built. Ill-doers and immature men and women are sent by God to us so we may demonstrate His mercies and build the Body of Christ.
Recognizing repentance leads to restoration which includes renewal of relationship, comfort and mentoring. This is what Barnabas did for Paul.Legalism, revenge, uncontrollable anger, hurting words and unforgiving spirit are detrimental for a church planter.
Lord, Grant me patience and long suffering. Help me to acknowledge the repentance of others. Make me a distributor of your mercies and grace. Amen.
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