May 31st 2010

Good Ol’ Barnabas (part 3)

The third of an occasional series

“And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Acts 4:36-37 (NKJV)

Barnabas was a member of the elite of Judah. He was a Levite. That meant something. It was equivalent to being part of the aristocracy of our day. No doubt the tabloids of the time ran stories about the doings of these people and their families. Scandals were especially popular—human nature hasn’t changed.

We’re not told about Barnabas’ family. Almost certainly he was married; Levites were expected to marry before they came to office. Did Barnabas dump her when he ‘came to Jesus’? That’s not in his nature, is it? But perhaps when she came to hear about his change of heart and new-found religious fervour, she was scandalised. After all, she had status and a position in the society of that time to uphold. Imagine the headlines and the scurrilous stories featuring the lonely mother and the fatherless children Joses had so heartlessly abandoned in the name of God! We have seen similar cultist stories in our lifetimes.

Did she divorce him? If she did, no doubt Barnabas more than adequately provided for her back on Cyprus. No doubt he also went and saw her on his trips there, as we shall see later in this series, to ensure that all was well with her—especially if there were children.

Scripture tells us to “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Encouragement may be a duty of Christians, but Barnabas did not act out of duty, he acted out of compassion and enthusiasm. He was willing to sacrifice his all in order to encourage others to stick with the faith. All Christians have opportunity to encourage, not because it is a duty, but because, like Barnabas, they want to.

Most merciful Father, thank you for the encouragement of people like good ol’ Barnabas. Help us to also encourage others from the heart, not the head. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

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