There is a tendency for people to feel insignificant or unimportant in their service for the Lord. They sometimes feel that in a world where they are often only a number or a nameless face, being just one person, they cannot have much of an impact for the cause of Christ.
I challenge you to consider that wherever God has placed you to serve Him, whether in the home, school, business, community, or church, you can have an incredible influence and do something for God.
THE MODERN MISSIONARY MOVEMENT
Acts 13 records the birth of the modern missionary movement. Here we are told of Gentile believers who (along with their Jewish leaders who are prompted by God the Holy Spirit and independently of the Twelve Apostles) decided that they were going to send out missionaries to the Gentile world. This was a fantastic step of faith and courage, especially since the Gentiles had been so hated and passed over by the Jews (Jn. 4:9; Acts 10:14; 11:19)! This was a dispensational first. This great turning point in church history is the first systematic attempt to being the gospel to the Gentiles. This decision (by these faithful men: Barnabas, Simeon (probably a black Ethiopian), Lucius of Cyrene (also an African), Manaen (foster brother of Herod), and Paul, stands among the most courageous and fruitful ever during the Acts period.
We dare not discount the courage and faithfulness of men like William Carey and Hudson Taylor, who centuries later brought great advancement to the modern missionary movement. But, when they set out to take the Gospel to the world, they had the Bible precedent and example of Barnabas and these other faithful men mentioned in Acts 13:1-3.
At your first glance of what happened here in the sending forth of these men from the Church of Antioch, where the believers were first called “Christians” (Acts 11:26), it may not appear that any one man provided the spark or took the initiative. But a careful look at Barnabas’ life of faithfulness will convince you that what brought the modern missionary movement to the birth was primarily and predominately the faithfulness of one man—Barnabas!
Trace this story back over the long haul (12 years from Pentecost where it is possible that this man Barnabas was a candidate for the twelfth apostle but was passed over by God the Holy Spirit for this better job in Acts 13), and you’ll find that God the Holy Spirit took note of his kind spirit, character, vision, leadership but primarily of his faithfulness. Barnabas was always there when he was needed, and willing to serve (Acts 11:22, 30)! Barnabas was a “good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24)!
The first hint we have of what Barnabas was really like is found in his name. The Apostles and friends had nicknamed him “Barnabas—Son of Consolation” (Acts 4:36). They had seen this noble quality in him and knew him to be an exhorter or encourager of the brethren.
Barnabas had other easily identifiable qualities of a faithful man, also.
Barnabas was generous (Acts 4:37). He had property in Cyprus and like others who believed that the Kingdom would soon be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6-7), and that certain acts of generosity were required (Mt. 6:9-21, 25-34; Lk. 3:11; 18:22-25), sold the property and laid it at the Apostles’ feet.
The degree of a man’s faithfulness to the things of God is often best calculated by his willingness to open his pocketbook often in support of the Lord’s work. The Apostle Paul says that many have “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10), because they were not faithful in money matters. You will never see a man amount to much for God who is not generous.
Barnabas was courageous (Acts 9:26-27). It took great courage for Barnabas to step out of the crowd and vouch for Paul and the genuineness of his conversion before the leaders in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem believers looked upon Paul with great suspicion and fear and “believed not that he was a disciple.” They remembered all too well that Paul was the one who “persecuted the Church of God and wasted it” (Gal. 1:13).
Barnabas’ kind of courage stands as a monument—an example for all believing men and women to follow. His love and courage must have greatly influenced Paul and encouraged others to do what is right and not necessarily just what is popular. This courage of Barnabas has to be one of the great building blocks in what (7 to 10 years later) would ultimately become the world’s first great, soul-winning, grace, missionary movement!
Barnabas was trusting (Acts 9:26-27). He was a compassionate man (1 Cor. 13:7). He stood for the underdog. Being a man “full of faith,” he had unwavering confidence in the plan and power of God (cf., John Mark in Acts 15:37-39 with 2 Tim. 4:11). He didn’t believe the rumors about Paul—that Paul was a spy who had come to learn about their activities and then to persecute them.
Rumor in the church is the most destructive thing in the world. Rumor destroys lives and encourages no one! It is amazing what believers will believe about other believers. Don’t get down in the mud of rumor and wallow in the things you hear about others. Barnabas didn’t; he trusted Paul; he believed the best (Phil. 3:8). “Barnabas took him in.”
Barnabas had vision. He saw what others did not see. He had great spiritual vision. (1) He saw what Paul was going to be! A diamond in the rough (Acts 9:27-29)! He saw that Paul was going to be a great preacher, teacher, and soul winner. (2) He saw the grace of God (Acts 11:23). He had seen and experienced the grace of God before, but never like this! Gentiles were getting saved! He saw something new! He saw the dispensational plan of God change and “was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.”
When the Jewish Church in Jerusalem found out something was going on in Antioch, that they had no control of, they sent Barnabas to investigate. Barnabas liked what he saw! He saw the plan of God, not the precedent. He saw the principle, not the rules!
That’s the challenge of the hour. Will you accept that challenge? Will you become a Barnabas? Will you give yourself to the service of God as you have never done before? Will the Lord say to you, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”
Will you tell the Lord, “I won’t give up, quit, stop, fall by the wayside, or let the Devil win the battle!” “I’m going to stay, to build, to work, to study, to win souls, until something, right here where I’m planted, happens for His honor and glory.”