When Paul first returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, the disciples rejected him. They were afraid to receive him namely because they were afraid of him. After all, he’d been killing Christians all his life; how could they trust that he was really transformed?
It was Barnabas that gave Paul another chance. He brought Paul to the apostles and declared to them how Paul had seen the Lord on the road to Damascus and then preached boldly in the name of Jesus. Barnabas vouched for Paul so the apostles would accept him (Acts 9:26-27). Later, after settling in Antioch, Barnabas sent for Paul to help him lead the Christian church there, a position of extreme authority (Acts 11:25-26).
In Acts 15:36-41, we find Paul asking Barnabas to accompany him to revisit the churches from the first mission. Barnabas wanted to take Mark, too, but Paul didn’t want to take Mark, who had been a disappointment on a previous mission. A sharp disagreement arose between Paul and Barnabas, with Paul choosing Silas and going to Syria and Cilicia, and Barnabas taking Mark instead to Cyprus. Barnabas gave Mark a 2nd chance, which he desperately needed. Later, Mark even reconciled with Paul and is seen as one of Paul’s key helpers in Colossians 4:10.
Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” gave Paul a chance to prove his redemption by vouching for him and his faith after his conversion. Barnabas gave Mark a second chance too, even after he had disappointed others as a Christian.
We need more Barnabas’ in our lives, those people that give us a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, chances when we have a disagreement or stray from our faith.
Or better yet, our role may be to be a Barnabas in another believer’s life: to give them just one more chance.