11th January 2011

Good Ol’ Barnabas 7

The seventh of an occasional series

“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”
Acts 13:2 (NKJV)

How would you feel if you’d been given a commission by the Holy Spirit, no less? There are two of you and you are in charge—again, put there by the Holy Spirit. And then you’re sent off to do “the work” to which you have been called. Just a little bit proud? And you go off to your home area, because Barnabas was a local lad from Cyprus who had done well and was now returning home. Would you be anxious to show the locals, people who knew you, that you were in charge?

Only, no sooner than you get there an incident occurs, and your number two takes the lead: “Then Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him….” And Paul is the instrument by which God does a mighty miracle.

A lesser man than Barnabas, good ol’ Barnabas, might have felt tinges of envy, or even anger at the presumption of his younger protégé. Not Barnabas. He was humble enough, yet again, to recognise that for “the work” to be done in the most efficient manner, a figure like Paul was necessary.

This is a second example we have seen in this series of the humility of the man. Just a few verses on, the text reads: “Now when Paul and his party…” So now it’s not even your show; you’re no longer recognised as the leader. Paul is.

So often when someone is given a charge to do something in a congregation, given a specific responsibility to perform, it becomes theirs. When the reality is, they are carrying out the work that the Holy Spirit has called them to. The minister, for example, who says “my congregation”, has forgotten that he is a helper, not the one in charge. It is the Lord’s congregation, not his. The deacon/deaconess who has set out the room for 30 years and is now fed up with being “put upon” and “taken for granted” has forgotten the “work” that the Holy Spirit set him/her apart to do.

That seems never to have been a problem with Barnabas. Always, he had his eye on the goal—the furtherance of the gospel, “the work” to be done. He didn’t need to be in charge, or even thought of as important; he was pleased just to be involved.

Most merciful Father, thank you for Barnabas. He was willing to see others promoted above him because he wanted only the success of your gospel preached to and lived by your people, those you have called at this time. Help us to keep this vision of a truly humble man before our eyes as we walk his same road of service to your people.

Study by John Stettaford 

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