“When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” Acts 11:23-24
When the church was started in the city of Antioch, the first largely made up of Gentile believers, Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to verify and affirm the work there. This man, “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,” rejoiced in seeing the grace of God poured out on these people.
Barnabas didn’t come with pride or cynicism in his heart. He didn’t bring along pre-conceived notions. His eyes and his heart were open in faith to see the work and salvation of the Lord. His words to them were those of encouragement and challenge, to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose. He cared about their well-being, the strengthening of their faith, and didn’t want them to experience initial joy in finding salvation and then abandon Christ when difficulty hit or emotions fell.
So what can we learn from this? Perhaps it’s to keep our minds and our hearts open to however and whenever our Lord chooses to work. He so often does things that we least expect. Let us not begin to put God in a box, believing His purposes and His reach to be limited. We should instead rejoice that He has no limits. Rejoice that He is able to do things we would never even imagine, that He can reach the unreachable and restore that which seems forever lost or broken. If we start to think God only works in certain ways, we may become resistant to His unexpected avenues of grace and blessing.
When we are full of the Holy Spirit, when we are abiding in Christ and investing in that relationship, God works in us to open our eyes to see things from His perspective. So we no longer look at things from our limited view. We move forward as God calls us, believing that He will be faithful and that grace will continue to strengthen and equip us. There is a sense of excitement as we go through our days, knowing that God is working and moving in greater ways than we can fathom. We are full of faith, knowing who our God is and trusting Him to show up in power and glory, however He chooses. Instead of questioning His actions, we simply respond with rejoicing, encouraging and challenging those around us to remain faithful to our Lord with steadfast purpose.