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Barnabas The Encourager

Acts 11:25-26 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.

Barnabas is a fine example of a young man who humbly placed others before himself. He recognized that God had given Paul a gift of teaching and preaching and so sought him out in order that he might use this gift to encourage the Christians in Antioch. Paul’s capacity to share the gospel was most likely larger that Barnabas’, yet Barnabas was not envious of the measure of the gift that the LORD had given to the apostle Paul. Rather, he rejoiced in this fact and encouraged Paul to use his ability for the sake of the gospel. Barnabas’ example teaches us to seek the things of Christ more than promoting ourselves.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Barnabas is recognized and remembered for the Christian virtue of love, which is not envious of others (1 Corinthians 13:4). How often do we meet another who is excelling in the grace given to them by God and allow envy to sneak into our heart robbing us of the joy and pleasure we ought to feel, when they bring glory to the Father with their gifts? As Jesus’ own children we truly want to rejoice in the work another is doing for the praise of our LORD, and yet as fallen people, sin causes us to act and say what we ought not.

I was encouraged to learn that even Paul, the great apostle confessed, ‘for that which I do I allow not: for what I would that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.’ (Romans 7:15). Whilst we live in this mortal body, we will struggle between what we know is right to do and yet fail to do it. How we need the gracious and forgiving help of our Heavenly Father!

1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Barnabas is our example par excellence. Singularly he was ministering to the church in Antioch, but soon realized that this task was too great to do alone. So, he traveled about 150 miles away by land to Tarsus, where he brought Paul back to Antioch and the two ministered there together for about a year. Barnabas’ willingness to call upon Paul showed his deep humility and respect for him. Instead of envying Paul and refusing to work with him, Barnabas chose to bring him to Antioch. Together they were responsible stewards of God’s grace using their abilities to build up both one another and also the believers in Antioch.

Proverbs 14:30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Envy is the enemy of our congregations. It erodes trust and brings disharmony and fragmentation amongst the saints that Christ prayed would be one (John 17:11). The enemy will use envy to split churches, divide friendships and tarnish the testimony of Christ’s bride before the world. An envious heart will never rejoice in the God-given ministry and fruitfulness of another but look only for means to denounce other believers, and promote themselves, and the expense of maligning whoever stands in their way.

However, a peaceful heart is content to hold their own gifting and ministry lightly so that others might be exalted. Such was the case with Barnabas and Paul. The fruit of this blessed relationship was peace and prosperity. The saints in Antioch were greatly encouraged and God was truly glorified.

Where have we allowed the evils of envy and jealousy to hinder the work of the LORD?

As the Spirit of God brings occasions to mind, let’s repent of these wrong attitudes and realign ourselves with the behavior that encourages others and pleases our Heavenly Father.

Are we doing whatever we can to foster the work God has given another to do with a sincere and genuine heart?

Heavenly Father, I recognize where envy and bitterness have crept into my heart, and I have been jealous of the ministry of other Christians. Please forgive me and create within me a clean and pure heart that is not tainted by any wrong attitude. I thank You that in Christ, my sins have been forgiven. Amen.’

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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One comment

  1. love barnabas

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