Read: Acts 9:23-31; Acts 11:21-26
When I opened our e-mail this morning, I was greeted with a statement that caused me to pause. I was skimming the spam file when I noticed the headline for one of the entries. It was from our credit card carrier informing me that one of our recurring charges appeared to look different than usual. Armed with this information, it was time to make a few calls. Everything turned out to be fine, and I thanked the representative from the credit card company for their watchfulness. Even though there had been no problematic activity this time, there could have been, and their attentiveness would have discovered it. It's a funny thing about watchfulness. It is sometimes looked upon as invasive. On other occasions, it is a good thing. The difference? Who is watching, and what is his motive for doing so? In the case of the credit card company, the answer seems clear to me. They are watching for fraudulent activity. They aren't trying to pry into our business to discover what we are doing, for nefarious purposes; so, attentiveness on their part is deemed by me to be a good thing.
What about those of us who are God's sons and daughters, John 1:11-12? The scriptures tell us that we are brothers and sisters, and as such, we are given many commands concerning how we should relate to one another. Here are merely a few of them. As we read them, let's notice how carrying them out will necessitate attentiveness toward one another, as we fellowship together.
1. Love one another just as Jesus has loved us, John 13:34. Jesus' love gave according to our greatest need, John 3:16. His love took action and continues to do so, according to our every-day changing needs, Romans 8:32.
2. Consider one another to be more important than ourselves, Philippians 2:3. Our focus is not to be always inward; instead, we are to notice those around us as Joseph tuned into the butler and the baker who were in prison with him, Genesis 40.
3. Serve one another in love, Galatians 5:13. Not doing out of duty alone but out of the desire that another will be blessed.
4. Consider how to spur one another toward love and doing good deeds, Hebrews 10:24.
5. Accept one another as Christ has accepted us, Romans 15:7. Remembering that God uses people with very different temperaments and at different stages of their walks with Jesus.
6. Bear with and forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us, Colossians 3:13.
7. Clothe ourselves with humility toward one another, 1 Peter 5:5.
This is not an exhaustive list from the scriptures; however, what a picture the Lord gives us of how our relationships with one another should be developing and how we are to treat our brothers and sisters.
First, in these verses, notice how the commands we are given are not obeyed out of duty but rather because of the love we have already received from Jesus. Because we have received the fullness of God's love for us, we can draw out of the never-ending supply that the Holy Spirit continues to give us, John 7:37-39. If we had to accomplish these commands in our own strength and with our own resources, we wouldn't get out of the gate. We would be left at the starting line. Second, let's notice how important it is to be watchful toward one another so that we can live out the commands the Bible gives. For example, in order to spur one another on to love and good deeds, we need to know one another. What are my sister's strengths? Where does she already shine with Jesus' love? What encourages her, and what causes her to shrink away? Another example. We are to serve one another in love. When we begin to know one another, we learn what serving them looks like. None of these one another commands come with a one size fits all book; instead, as we come to know our brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit will help us to walk out God's commands toward them. For example: I know someone who dislikes talking on the phone; therefore, I don't try to serve her through long conversations. I accept her and don't try to remake her like me.
We learn how to carry out the one another commands through the good kind of watchfulness that seeks to build another up and help her to grow more like the One Who saved her.
Before we continue and look into Barnabas' life of helpful watchfulness, let's briefly remind ourselves what the Bible says isn't helpful at all. We are warned that we should not be busybodies. Those who interfere and meddle in one another's lives, 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Peter 4:15; 1 Timothy 5:13. These scriptures picture a kind of watchfulness not borne out of love, and it should be avoided at all costs. Watchfulness that spreads strife and disunity is not from the Lord.
How different Barnabas' life was. We meet this godly man in Acts 4:36 where we are told that his name means son of encouragement. In order to truly encourage, we need to be watchful, and Barnabas surely was that kind of a man. When the need was a practical one, he met it with his resources; however, when someone needed to be built up and needed an arm around his shoulders Barnabas was there to meet that kind of a need too. In Acts 9:23-31, we watch as Barnabas stood together with the newly born again Saul. People were understandably afraid of this new convert. After all, he had viciously attacked Christians by dragging them off and calling for their imprisonment. Now there was talk of his having changed. Really? Enter Barnabas. He told of Saul's boldness and true conversion so his fledgling ministry could continue without fear for either Saul or those around him. In Acts 11:22-26, Barnabas sought out Saul and brought him back to Antioch. There they ministered together for a year. The Lord was doing mighty things there, and Barnabas wanted Saul to join him so they could work together in this fruitful ministry. Barnabas watched for an opportunity to help another bear fruit for the Lord.
Lord, Please help us each day to watch for opportunities to fulfill Your one another commands.