Recently I was watching the first game of the baseball World Series. The game was tied, but in the top of the eighth inning, the first baseman for one team made an error allowing the go ahead run to score. You could see that he was devastated. The bottom of the eighth and the top of the ninth innings produced no runs. With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, a player hit a homerun. The game was tied and went into extra innings. The player who made the error came up in those extra innings with a man on third and one out. He hit a fly ball to right field to allow the winning run to come home on a sacrifice fly! I felt good for the player on that day.
The Bible is full of stories of second chances. When Saul of Tarsus was saved, he had a difficult time with being accepted by the Christians he had formerly been persecuting. One man, Barnabas, believed in Saul. Acts 10:25 says, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul.” Revival was breaking out in Antioch, and Barnabas was going there to help lead the young believers in the faith. He needed help, and he sought out Saul of Tarsus when everyone else was running away from him.
There are three lessons I see in this simple verse. First, God is the God of second chances. He knows what we can become regardless of what we have been. He sees the rest of the story that we can only dream about. I am so encouraged to know that there is no one that is beyond the mercy and grace of God. That includes me and it includes you. We may have failed God in the past, but He offers His mercy new every morning! I am thrilled to know that God can re-create a right heart and spirit within the believer!
The second lesson I learn from this passage is that there are far too many of us believers limit our fellowship based on past grudges. We, who have been forgiven of much, often find it hard to forgive others. We, who have failed ourselves, often find ourselves extremely judgmental over others who have failed, and even those who have failed in the same ways we have failed. If we are not careful, we will become people who decide that some people are not worthy of our fellowship. That is dangerous ground.
There is one last thing I learn in this verse is that there is great potential in the person God has restored. Think of what our Christian world would look like without the influence of Paul. Yes, he had been a persecutor, but he became a preacher! He had done horrible things, but he was used of God to reach the Gentiles (of whom I am one). He was used in a mighty way because Barnabas dared to step over the line to him! Praise God for mercy!