Have you ever met someone who believes they have the spiritual gift of FAULT FINDING?
I know it’s not mentioned in the New Testament, but I have met more than a few Christians who have displayed this gift and for the sake of full disclosure there have been periods of my life when I have been one of them. (Apologies to those who have encountered this side of me.)
People with this gift can find faults with just about everything in church life, the music, the preaching, the leaders, the decoration, the services that are too long or too short etc etc. Likewise, they can find fault with just about everyone else in church, what the young people are wearing, the language of someone new, etc. People like this seem to delight in constantly pointing out what they think are other people’s mistakes, faults, and flaws and correcting them.
I vividly remember a couple in one of the churches I pastored whom I dreaded meeting or having to go and see. I dreaded it because I knew it would be a litany of what was wrong with the church and the people in the church. I also noticed something else about this couple, apart from their ability to find fault, they were two of the unhappiest people I have met. They were literally never happy; I can’t remember ever meeting them and thinking they were in a happy mood today. They were a pair of sour faced saints whom I suspected had been baptized in lemon juice.
Maybe you have met people like that too?
Maybe you, like me can recognize a bit of tendency at times to be one of those people too?
Whenever we come across Barnabas in the New Testament he comes across as being the exact opposite of the people we have been talking about.
In Acts chapter 11 he met with some new Jesus followers in Antioch. There were probably a lot of things he could have criticized about them. Some of them maybe were still a bit rough around the edges and still used toe-curling language at times. Many came from completely pagan backgrounds and perhaps were still doing some stuff that wasn’t appropriate for Christians.
Here is what we are told happened when Barnabas encountered these less than perfect, still new disciples.
When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Barnabas saw past all of the faults and flaws of these new Christians; he didn’t focus on them. He resisted the temptation to be a faultfinder. Instead, he deliberately chose to focus on and celebrate what he could see that God was doing in and through them. Focusing on what was good in others rather than their faults made him glad, it brought him joy. It always does.
I was in a bookshop recently and noticed there seemed to be rows of books on how to be happier. I think that is because we all want to be a bit happier but don’t necessarily know how to be. If that’s you, Barnabas can help.
Barnabas didn’t write a book on how to be happier for us to read instead he left us an example for us to follow. Choose to look past people’s faults and flaws to look for what God is doing in and through them and then encourage that person by telling them you see God at work in their lives!
Can you imagine a church full of people following Barnabas’ example, with people constantly talking about how they can see God at work in each other’s lives and encouraging one another and being encouraged as a result?
COULD WE BE THAT CHURCH?
I want to issue a challenge to us all.
This week resist the temptation to see other believers’ faults and failings. Instead, consciously look for evidence of God at work in their lives, and when you see it encourage them by telling them!
I am going to bet that you, just like Barnabas, will feel happier as a result and so will they!