Summary: Many times those who serve in obscurity are overlooked, but provide a tremendous impact to the body of Christ. We must encourage those who serve in the shadows to continue for the Lord.
Series: Serving in the Shadows # 1
Being a Barnabas
Acts 11: 19-26
Our text today speaks of a man, who although not obscure in the Scriptures, is often found serving in the shadows. He is first introduced among the early believers in Jerusalem. Acts 4:36 –And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus. The next mention we find of Barnabas, he is associated with Paul, following his conversion. Acts 9:27 – But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. The Scriptures provide enough detail to discern that Barnabas was a faithful servant of the Lord, used in mighty ways, but his work and ministry is often overshadowed by the man he served alongside, the apostle Paul.
Our churches are filled with those who quietly go about their work, faithfully serving the Lord, making significant contributions, and yet their service goes largely unnoticed. I have been involved with the church long enough, and have enough experience in the diverse aspects of ministry to know that it takes many people working together for a congregation to be successful in ministry. While many positions may go unnoticed, they are not unappreciated, and are certainly not unnecessary. I can assure you that while others may not notice or appreciate your contributions, the Lord sees and knows. He will reward your faithfulness and bless your efforts.
Over the next few weeks I want to look into the lives of individuals who faithfully served the Lord in the shadows of others, but made a tremendous difference in ministry. I would like to encourage you to faithfully serve where the Lord has placed you, knowing you are important to the Lord and the work of the church. Let’s examine the characteristics of this faithful servant as we consider: Being a Barnabas.
I. The Calling of Barnabas (19-23) – Here we get a glimpse of the great move of God that was sweeping that portion of the world. The Spirit had filled believers at Pentecost, the Gospel was being preached, and thousands were coming to faith in Christ. That is the setting in which Barnabas was called into ministry. Notice:
A. The Anticipation in His Calling (21-22a) – And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.  Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem. Following the persecution that led to the stoning of Stephen, the church was scattered and the Gospel was taken to distant areas. Believers made their way to Antioch, an area 300 miles north of Jerusalem and a great number of people were saved. Such a move of God garnered the attention of the leadership in Jerusalem. In fact, I am convinced they anticipated an even larger harvest of souls in response to the Gospel. This is the setting in which Barnabas was commissioned for service.
As we serve the Lord, in our respective positions, we too should anticipate a great harvest regarding the Gospel. We ought to make every preparation possible to ensure the message is shared and people are presented with the truth of the Gospel. Such anticipation will affect our attitude and efforts within the various ministries of the church.
B. The Approval in His Calling (22b) – and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Here we find the biblical basis for the modern missions model. Missionaries are called of the Lord, commissioned of the church, and sent out to serve the Lord. Their work and ministry is embraced and supported by the local church.
Looking at this in a general sense regarding service to the Lord, as the church realizes needs within its ministry and the community, she approves, encourages, and equips her members for service. Just as Jerusalem sensed a need and embraced Barnabas for the task, we need to sense the needs of our day and embrace those who are willing to be used of the Lord.
C. The Affirmation in His Calling (23) – Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he rejoiced at what the Lord had done and sought to encourage the new believers in their faith. As of yet, he had not made an individual contribution to the work there, but he rejoiced in the fruit of those who had. He sensed God was at work and he wanted to be involved with the Lord in His work.