During last Friday’s worship, a missionary to Cyprus came and shared about his connection to the 4-14 Movement and the reasons for his ministry in Cyprus. One of the initiatives he brought up was to be a source of encouragement and care for the missionaries there and aptly named it as the Barnabas Ministry. And as he was sharing about who Barnabas was, I was slowly convinced I should change my middle name to Barnabas. If that’s really going to happen we will see but I really want to!
Thinking about my calling, my years of ministry, and just my passion to live simply and give lavishly, the character of Barnabas just resonated with me so much.
Giving it all to the Lord
Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.Acts 4:36-37 (ESV)
Barnabas is a new name given to a man named Joseph who exemplified a life that was unreservedly devoted to the Kingdom of God. So much so that his actions and life was an encouragement to the church and led the apostles to call him Barnabas, which means son of encouragement.
Being that my name is Joseph and my life statement is live simply and give lavishly, Barnabas’ action of faith embodies this to the very core. I am all the more reminded and convinced once again that a life completely spent and devoted to God, regardless of status, riches, fame or acclaim, is the key to finding true joy and peace in life. I’m once again reminded of the boldness of Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who declared to the king in chapter three of Daniel, one of the greatest mic drop moments in all of history.
Where did their boldness and clarity come from? I believe they already had true joy and peace in life because they had already given their all to the Lord. Even in the face of certain death, their faith did not waiver because their lives were not their own. For them, “God, do as You will,” didn’t come with additional strings attached. There was nothing else to ask for in life but to be used by God in how ever way God wanted to use them. If it meant burning in the furnace and dying before they could see God bring them out of exile, they were ready and willing. They understood that God’s ways were higher than all their understanding. They knew what the fear of the Lord meant. And so, there was nothing else to fear.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.Daniel 4:16-19 (ESV)
The king was so dumbfounded by their reply that all he could respond was by making an extremely hot furnace to be heated up even more. I can imagine the servants trying to make the hottest place some how even hotter.
May we never lose touch with the kind of zeal and devotion to God exemplified by Daniel and his three friends. I know I’ve only had a taste of that conviction so I’m going to continue on in giving all of myself for God so that I may know the kind of boldness that stands firm in the face of all suffering. If you’ve never tasted that kind of conviction, I pray that we heed the words of Jesus of what it truly means to be glorified.
And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.John 12:23-26 (ESV)
Raising Up Leaders
And when he [Saul] had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.Acts 9:26-27 (ESV)
As I continue in growing the heart of a pastor and finding my ministry direction and philosophy, I recognize that we each have a vital yet unique role to play in ministry. In general, all pastors share the same heart. However, each pastor has a unique conviction and gifting that allows them to bring glory to God in special and specific ways. As I read about the compassion and understanding that allowed Barnabas to seek out Saul who had in his prior days greatly persecuted the Church, his compassion resonated with so much of my convictions.
I am emboldened by the life of Barnabas as I pray to be a minister of the Word and an advocate for the defenseless, a friend to the outcast, a strength to the weak, and a defender of mercy and grace. I pray that we all seek to empower the powerless by the power of the Gospel and in turn give all the glory to God as His power is made perfect in our weakness.
A Good Man, Full of the Holy Spirit and of Faith
The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.Acts 11: 22-26 (ESV)
Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. His heart and attitude was always inclined to be optimistic. He would later disagree with Paul because of this optimism. But through it all, the Gospel was proclaimed and the Kingdom of God expanded. His demeanor and attitude helped others to remain faithful to the Lord with a steadfast purpose and a great many people came to repentance and salvation.
This optimism found in Barnabas is not a groundless optimism. I believe it is an optimism that comes from the heart of a person who truly understands the grace that was shown to us and the value and joy of salvation. It is the attitude of the true Christian who has been given new life by a new Spirit.
Let us be so alive in our faith that we like Barnabas become a people of encouragement to those around us. I believe that when we do so, our hearts will overflow with thankfulness and peace that could not only withstand all the heartaches of this life and of all sufferings to come but also be able to glory in and through it all in the name of our Lord Jesus.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV)