July 25th 2009

Change Is Possible

(7 of 12 studies taken from Acts 7 to Acts 14)

“When he came to Jerusalem, he (Saul) tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus”.
Acts 9:26-30 (NIV UK)

Do you ever put people in boxes? So much so that you cannot see any likelihood that a person might change? Maybe you say to yourself, with a sigh of resignation, that your wife or husband will never change, that she or he will always be the same? Or you feel your colleague always does whatever it is, so what hope is there?

Do not limit the power of the Holy Spirit to change another person, and be alert to see the Spirit at work in one another’s lives. That’s the lesson we learn from how Barnabas accepted the conversion of Saul.

No wonder the Jerusalem disciples were leery of Saul. Their suspicions were founded on facts. Saul had imprisoned and beat those who believed in the Way. Was he leading the apostles into a false sense of security only to capture them and, in so doing, destroy the movement completely? Was it all a trap?

Barnabas had a good reputation. His name was originally Joses or Joseph, but the apostles were so impressed by him that they called him Barnabas, which meant “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). You get the idea that Barnabas saw the good in people. He certainly did so with Saul. He saw that the Holy Spirit had worked and was working in him. Because Barnabas supported Saul, Saul became accepted in Jerusalem.

The Christian life is about change. Not just personal change in you and me, but also remarkable change in the lives of others. Do we allow ourselves to see their spiritual potential? Or do we blind ourselves through past patterns or prejudice so that we don’t see how the Spirit transforms those whose faults we think we know so well and who, we suspect, will never change?

Let’s not limit God’s ability to change other people.

Creator God, help me to see how your Spirit is transforming others and to rejoice in your work in their lives. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson