Valerie and I love the springtime, it’s our favorite time of the year! Not surprisingly, you’re liable to see us at the local Jumbo-Mart on any given weekend, usually in the garden department buying flowers to plant around our yard. We’d had a string of days with temperatures in the 70s so I guess our little flowers said, "Hey, it's warm, I guess it's time to bloom”. The problem is that we live in Arkansas and as you know the weather here can be rather unpredictable. It can go from 70 degrees one day to snowfall the next!
You know, it got me to thinking about how it’s not only flowers and shrubs that need the warmth to bring out their beauty; people need it too! Listen, there are people in the church who are ready to bloom and blossom if we would only provide a warm climate for them!
A great example of this very thing is found in the bible. In Acts 9:26 the bible says,
“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way and that he had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
You remember that Saul was a persecutor of Christians, but now he's been converted and he’s come to Christ! But instead of a warm welcome, he’s getting the cold shoulder. He’s getting spiritual frostbite! Thanks goodness Barnabas, remember his name means son of encouragement, was willing to provide a warm climate; a touch of spiritual springtime for Saul.
This was a critical point in the Apostle Paul’s new faith. He's ready to blossom into leadership, but he ran into some wintry responses. He needed a climate of warmth and encouragement; someone to believe in him. Barnabas gave this new believer the kind of warmth that allowed something beautiful to blossom!
What about you? Are there people in your life who need this same kind of warm environment right now? Maybe it's a child, maybe a friend or a co-worker; maybe it’s someone who is one of the difficult people in your life! You know, it's amazing the difference that a little warmth can make in bringing out the beauty in a person!
Now if people feel condemned, criticized, or attacked, well don't expect any beauty to emerge! Sometimes we make it feel like winter for folks and the cold just them want to withdraw or be defensive and fight back. Hard, difficult people are often folks who have experienced a lot of wintry treatment from people and some of it may be their own fault. But more cold will not help blossom them into something better. Only the warmth of genuine Christianity will do that. Maybe you can be the one to give the warmth of love and encouragement to others. By sharing the warm love of Jesus, you can be the one who makes it spring for someone today!