"One kiss can change a life."
At sixteen, Andor Foldes was an exceptional, but dejected, pianist. In the midst of his gloom, a renowned piano teacher came to his hometown to perform. Emil von Sauer was not only famous as a pianist, but he claimed the notoriety of being the last surviving pupil of the great Franz Liszt.
Von Sauer requested that Foldes play for him. The young musician obliged the master by performing some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann. When he finished, von Sauer walked over to him and kissed him on the forehead.
“My son,” he said, “when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, ‘Take good care of that kiss -- it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.’ I have waited for years to pass on this sacred kiss, but now I feel you deserve it.”
Andor Foldes received the kiss of affirmation and it changed his life. It changed Saul's life too. Saul was a notorious persecutor of Christians -- until God saved him. As you might imagine, his conversion was suspect. Nice people doubted him, skeptics chided him, and everyone avoided him. Everyone except Barnabas. Barnabas “kissed him.” Here's the first-hand account in Acts:
When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus. So Saul stayed with the apostles and went all around Jerusalem with them, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord….When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown. Acts 9:26-30 NLT
Barnabas believed in Saul when no one else did. He affirmed him, he encouraged him, and that "kiss" changed Saul's life.
Why did Barnabas do what others did not? The answer lies in what Jesus did for him:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 ESV
Those who are changed by the grace of God, are both empowered and directed to give that grace to others. The forgiven, forgive. The loved, love. The affirmed radiate affirmation.
Your affirming word can revive a tired soul, bring out the sun on someone's cloudy day, or instill the hope to press on in the face of adversity. Who needs your affirmation today?
This story was shared in Reader's Digest, December 1986, page 145.