“Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.
“When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:22-23).
During the dispersion from Jerusalem, Christians were scattered to several provinces, taking with them the word of the Lord. They, in fact, had much success; and many, including some Gentiles, obeyed the gospel.
When the church in Jerusalem heard of this success, they sent Barnabas out; and he was happy with what he saw. As a result, he encouraged them to continue in their devotion to the Lord.
So, Barnabas became an encourager; that is, one who gives support and advice to others so they will do better—one who stimulates others to move forward and grow.
What better service could a person be to others than to stimulate them to greater spiritual maturity. We all need that. We need encouragement so that we can keep our spiritual journey on the right path and so that we can grow in Christ.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).
“A word to the wise” is a well-known expression that many like to quote but few like to heed. Some people appear to have the idea that they are always right, regardless of what the situation is. Solomon speaks to that attitude in this verse.
The problem is that we don’t always know what we don’t know; consequently, we can make many embarrassing mistakes when we fail to seek advice from others and then to listen to it. Solomon categorizes this kind of person as a “fool.”
The lesson is that we should always be open to what other people might teach us. Those not so close to a situation just may have a more reasonable perspective than we do when we are in the middle of it. If we are closed minded, we may end up in trouble or at least making ourselves look foolish.
“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped” (Psalm 73:2).
Scholars believe the psalmist here is Asaph who is responding to a strong temptation he had to envy the prosperity of wicked people. His description of his situation is that he almost stepped over the line and questioned God for allowing corrupt people to appear to be so happy and blessed.
He brings himself back from that temptation by remembering the fact that God has been good to Israel. One writer said, “He had well-nigh slipped from the rock of faith into the abyss of skepticism.”
By flirting with such doubt, the psalmist places himself on the level of the rest of humanity. How easy it is for us to look at the same situation he looked at and be envious of how blessed some profane and corrupt people are.
The message is that God has ultimate control and that all things will work out according to His good pleasure in the end. And, after all, the supreme blessing is a knowledge of Him and an opportunity to receive His ultimate blessing some day.