A Good Man
A daily devotion for May 27th
The Church in Antioch
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:22-24
The gospel had broken through the Jewish barriers that had held it in and was now reaching out to the Gentiles. The result of this first preaching was that many Gentile converts came to Christ. This news was a bit disconcerting to the disciples at Jerusalem. They did not know what to do about this movement of the Holy Spirit. Since they were themselves Jews, raised in the tradition that they were God's chosen people, you can imagine what happened. They never thought that God would move to reach the Gentile world and so they hardly knew what to make of it. When word came to them that Gentiles were becoming converts of Jesus Christ, they were utterly astounded. Were these real Christians?
To settle the issue, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. He did not come to attempt to control this new thrust by the Holy Spirit; he came down to investigate it, to see what God had been doing. The three reasons they chose Barnabas are given: (1) he was a good man, (2) full of the Spirit, (3) full of faith.
Good man means more than simply that he behaved himself. This is a reference to his disposition. He was an easy-going, cheerful, open-hearted, gracious individual. He has appeared this way to us already in the pages of Acts. He defended Paul when he came back from Damascus, disillusioned and defeated. The other apostles would have nothing to do with him because he was still suspect. But Barnabas brought him in and championed his cause. He was that kind of man.
full of the Holy Spirit. That, of course, is the supreme qualification. Being full of the Holy Spirit meant that the fruit of the Spirit was evident in his life. He was filled with love, joy, long-suffering, patience, and gentleness. He lived this way not because of his own easy-going character but because he was drawing upon the power of an indwelling Holy Spirit.
Third, he was a man
of faith. That means he acted upon what God said. He did not wait for his feelings. A man of faith simply believes God and expects him to act. He doesn't even think about how he feels himself. Faith is not a feeling. Faith has nothing to do with your feelings. Faith is simply a recognition that God has promised something, and, since he is God, to expect him to do it, and therefore to act on that basis. That is the kind of man who gets something done.
Make me to be available to you, Lord, filled with the Holy Spirit, a person of faith, flexible, ready to move according to the steps that you outline. Make me willing to change. Save me from being rigid, unbending, and inflexible in my attitudes to others.
Life Application: The one who depends solely on God to live through him will be a 'Barnabas' in his servant relationships with others: gracious, Christ-like and overflowing with encouragement. Will you look for ways God can use you to strengthen and bless others with His overflowing life in you?
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