Content to be at his side

When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24)

We don't know much about Barnabas, but we do know that he was a Jew, likely well-acquainted with the teachings of Jesus, perhaps he could have been among the seventy or so who followed him throughout his ministry. We do know that he strong in faith and lived an upright life. He was an encourager - exhorting the believers to continue to grow and remain true to their testimony of faith. If you study his life a little closer, you will see he partnered with the Apostle Paul and was instrumental in helping to establish the New Testament churches as Paul itinerated throughout the land. He was generous - selling his parcel of land and giving the proceeds to aid in meeting the needs of those early believers. One of the things I find interesting about his life is his way of bringing out the best in people - one of the hallmark signs of one who is an 'encourager'.

As the church grew and new members were added to the 'ranks' of believers, he was overjoyed with their acceptance of Jesus. He knew life was changing for them, placing them at risk of persecution and even death, as not all the new believers would be embraced by the Jewish people who rejected the Messiah. He might have stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves, but that was because he knew the power of God in his own life. Then one day, "While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away." (Acts 13:2-3) As one called by the Lord, he was faithful to his mission. This is a great lesson we can learn from his life - be faithful to the position God places you within. He did not seek to be the Apostle Paul but was content to be at his side in ministry, supporting him in whatever way he could.

Sometimes more is accomplished by letting someone with differing gifts take the lead, while we simply support their calling. We each have our gifts, but there is great wisdom in knowing when our 'gift' is meant as a 'supportive gift'. If we all want to lead, there will never be anyone to help! Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we give is that of service - in whatever form that takes. It doesn't have to be 'public', for many of God's gifts are 'given' in ways that aren't 'public', such as spending time with the lonely, encouraging the downtrodden, or praying through the night for someone who is hurting or confused by what life has thrown their way. We fulfill God's mission when we assume the place he has prepared for us. We see the results of those 'gifts' best when we allow all our varying gifts to come together, each of us standing together in God's work. Just sayin!

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