Summary: This sermon identifies four attributes worth admiration in Paul and Barnabas. These same attributes ought to be present in us as fathers.
Admiration is an interesting thing. The dictionary defines it as “a feeling of pleasure, wonder and approval”. I think that most men want their children to admire them in one sense or another. I mean I want my children to take pleasure in me as their father, I want them to have a sense of wonder at how I live my life or how I deal with things and I want them to give their approval of me as their father. Certainly as children are growing they won’t always have those feelings but once they are grown and maturing I want them to look back and be able to say “I admire my father”. This morning we are going to look at four attributes worth admiring in Paul as well as all men, especially fathers.
Everyone can admire a man who…
1. Treats others compassionately. V. 9
Paul looked intently and the man who was crippled. He saw his plight and pain but even more important he saw his potential. We can learn a lot from Paul’s level of compassion toward this man. So often we go through life not paying attention to anyone else but ourselves. As fathers we can get so wrapped up in our careers that we forget the reason we have careers is to provide for our families. Our children go through so much these days. They face incredible pressures in school and from society. Often they have difficulties that we have trouble understanding. Sometimes they have pain hidden down deep inside. However we must look intently into their lives and see their potential. We must take time to treat our children and others around us compassionately.
2. Speaks with authority. V.10
One of the things that set Jesus and His apostles apart from others of their day is that they spoke with authority. They spoke like they knew what it was they were talking about. Of course this is not because of some secret knowledge they had. It was because they were speaking with God’s authority and for His purposes. Today many misunderstand the concept of authority. They think this means they just order everyone else around. Psychologists have identified through thousands of studies that the most detrimental style of personality for a father to have is high authoritarian and high disciplinarian. Now that is not to say that authority and discipline are bad things in fact it is just the opposite. Authority and discipline are good things but they must be the right kind of authority and discipline. The authority that we as fathers have does not come simply because of shared genetics. Our authority comes because God has commanded it to be so. He did it in the fifth commandment. Since it comes because of God’s command it should also be used in accordance with His instruction. When we speak with God’s authority according to His instruction we will have an attribute worth admiring.
3. Lives in humility. V. 15
Paul and Barnabas were being honored as gods. The people had never seen such power displayed and wanted to show their respect. It would have been easy for many men to simply accept the adoration of these people and perhaps even take advantage of the people in this situation. Paul and Barnabas knew they were not gods nor were they worthy of worship. They showed true humility in confronting this difficult situation. They told the people that they were just like them and were nothing special. Sometimes we can think too highly of ourselves and forget that every good thing comes from God. When we close that big business deal, finish that big project or land the big promotion and others around us shower us with compliments, it is easy to take all of the credit for ourselves. However if we are like Paul and Barnabas we will be quick to give all of the credit and praise to God and point others to Him. We ought to live in humility always acknowledging that God is the one who is working in and through us for His glory and purpose.
4. Shares His testimony. V. 17
Paul rightly said that “He did not leave Himself without witness”. Paul had shared that God is living, creator, merciful, good, and provider. He was bearing witness of who God is and what He had done. Paul is not the only one who is called to give testimony or witness to God. We too are called to do the same thing. Jesus referred to believers as salt and light. This means we must bear witness to who God is and what He has done.
Unfortunately there are few people in today’s society that our children can look to with admiration. That is truly a sad thing. However I believe it is better to have people in our homes that children can admire and that would be Godly mothers and fathers. We can’t blame society for not providing admirable role models if we ourselves have failed to show attributes to admire.