When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t believe he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.
I don’t know if you’re supposed to have “favorite” Bible characters, so don’t tell anyone I said this, but one of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas.
Barnabas is not what his parents named him. His real name was Joseph, but he was so good at lifting the spirits of people that they called him “Barnabas,” which means, “son of encouragement.”
Without Barnabas there would be no Paul. Saul (who would later be named “Paul”) used to persecute the church and all the disciples were afraid of him. Barnabas, however, convinced them to have Paul accepted as a fellow believer.
As you read the book of Acts, you’ll find at least 20 times where Luke says “Paul and Barnabas” did this or that on their missionary trips. But, do you want to know something? When I think about the book of Acts, it is about the missionary trips of Paul. Paul is in the limelight and Barnabas almost seems to drop out of the picture.
Are you a Barnabas? Do you see that it is just as important to help and encourage others as it is to be the one getting all the applause?
I guess it is OK to have favorite baseball players, so let me tell you one of mine: Willie Mays. Willie Mays was a great hitter. He hit a lot of doubles. But, all of a sudden, his doubles declined rapidly.
Do you know why? When Mays would hit a double, the next batter up was Willie McCovey, who was the best power hitter on the team. Rather than let him bat, with first base open, they would simply walk him intentionally.
Once Mays realized that his doubles took the bat out of the hands of McCovey, he would deliberately hold up at first base, so that McCovey would have an opportunity to knock one out of the park. Willie Mays worked to make his teammate look better.
You have to be a person of great humility to help someone else become greater by getting less attention yourself. But, without people who encourage others, the church would have no effective ministry.
Willie Mays would have won more glory if he smacked a lot of doubles rather than singles. But it is so much more satisfying when we are working for something greater than ourselves – something greater than our own glory. Mays played on a team.
Why is it that I imagine Barnabas as one of the happiest and most content of the early disciples? (The Bible doesn’t say anything about that.) Deep down, we find it impossible to imagine this first band of disciples changing a man’s name to “son of encouragement” – and then picturing the guy as morose. Or obsessed with his own ego.
When we stop to think about it we know that those who delight in encouraging others are those who live with a twinkle in their eyes.
Have you heard of Haley’s comet? If so, you are mistaken. It isn’t Haley (as in “hale-ee”), but Halley (as in “hall-ee”). Let me tell you about Edmund Halley.
But not right now. First, let’s talk about Sir Isaac Newton. You know him: the apple falls on his head, supposedly, and he comes up with a mathematical formula for gravity. After Newton published his findings, he went on to become one of the most famous scientists of all time.
Yet, without Edmund Halley, we probably would never know about Newton. Halley challenged Newton to think through his theories. When Newton made mathematical mistakes in his calculations, Halley corrected them. When Newton wrote up his discoveries, Halley edited his work. When Newton refused to publish his findings, Halley published them, and paid the printing costs out of his own pocket. Historians who know this story call it one of the most selfless acts in science history.
And those of us who do know about the comet he discovered rarely pronounce his name right. Halley was a Barnabas. He is virtually unknown, but because of his encouragement, he gave Sir Isaac Newton to the world.
Maybe it’s time for us to step up to the plate and. . . hit a single – so that someone else can knock it out of the park.
(copyright by Marty Kaarre)