Monday 27th July 2020
Acts chapter 13:1-4
Do you have a friend who is always there for you; by your side through thick and thin; someone who has your back when the rest of the world is against you; someone who is willing to stand against you if they feel you are wrong, but will also fight your corner when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are right? Perhaps they are your very own Barnabas!
The ‘Barnabas’ in the bible was a man called Joseph, a Jew from Cyprus. His friends had possibly nicknamed him Barnabas, a term meaning ‘Son of Encouragement’, because of his desire to serve and encourage others. He was referred to as a good man, one on whom the Holy Spirit rested, trusted, brave and, above all, a solid friend. So just what do we know about him and what can we learn from his life?
Barnabas was a sacrificial giver. We first hear of him in Acts 4, when he sold his possessions and laid the money at the feet of the apostles. So inspired must he have been for mission, that he put all that he had at the mercy of those who were taking God’s word to wherever it needed to go. According to 1 Corinthians 9:6, he also supported himself financially in his mission work with Paul
Barnabas was brave. Saul, later known as Paul, had been persecuting the believers to the point of death. Barnabas heard of his conversion and took steps to visit him in Damascus. He remained there for a year and he and Paul taught great numbers of people, bringing many to faith and encouraging the newly converted Paul to be the man he was to become
Barnabas was a good man. Following his year of evangelism and learning in Antioch, Barnabas returned to Jerusalem with Paul and vouched for his integrity, faith and witness to the apostles. He was willing to give Paul a second chance…I'm not sure that is something most people would have done under the circumstances
Barnabas was a companion. After prayer, fasting and laying on of hands, Paul set off on his first missionary accompanied by – you’ve guessed it…Barnabas, along with his young cousin John Mark!
Barnabas was not afraid of conflict. He was with Paul when there was a serious disagreement with Peter concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. Later there was also a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas regarding Mark travelling on the missionary journeys. Both times Barnabas stood by what he believed was true, even to the point of possibly losing good friends
Barnabas was a teacher. While Paul continued on his second missionary journey, this time with Silas, Barnabas took Mark on another missionary trip, this time to Cyprus, discipling him, encouraging his youthful faith and helping him mature. Towards the end of his life Paul wrote that Mark was, once again, ‘useful to me for ministry’ (2 Timothy 4:11)
Finally Barnabas really was an encourager. It appears to me that humble, dependable Barnabas saw the good in all people, no matter what mistakes they may have made. He showed God’s mercy and grace to Paul and Mark when others had given up hope. If it wasn’t for Barnabas, perhaps these two great men of God, both of whom had much learning and growing to do in their earlier years, might never have written a gospel, or may never have preached and travelled extensively taking the gospel and establishing communities of faith throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor and into Europe before the end of the first century
Paul of Tarsus had ‘sinned’. Mark had ‘sinned’. Barnabas had ‘sinned’. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But I think Barnabas knew this deep down and that is possibly why he seems committed to giving both Paul and Mark a second chance.
We have all said and done things that have caused harm, whether intentionally or not. We have all missed opportunities to do good to others or done things that others would roll their eyes and tut at. We are all in need of a second, third, even thousandth chance to do the right thing.
I read this today
“To Barnabas, the kingdom (of God) was not a machine needing cogs, but a body consisting of individuals…a kingdom with no place for Saul of Tarsus or a John Mark…is a kingdom with no place for anyone!”
What a challenge to us all, can we be a Barnabas to someone who everyone else has given up hope on? Would we welcome Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of the fledgling faith, or the immature, and perhaps somewhat anxious, John Mark into our churches? What potentially talented and gifted people are missing the opportunity to share in God’s kingdom because we are so afraid to welcome in the lost, the sinner and the loser!
Perhaps we all need to be a little more like Barnabas, humble, caring, giving and encouraging, no matter who the person was or what they represented. Perhaps we can all be more welcoming, offering God's rich grace and mercy in a way that encourages more into the kingdom -For His Name Sake!!
©Rev Bren Brundritt 2020
- 137 Sidcup Hill
- DA14 6JS