[Anabaptists: The Web's first conservative site introducing Mennonites, their history and their beliefs.] NewGuideHistoryDoctrineWritingsBookstore
EspañolChurch LocatorRSS
to the glory of God and the edification of people everywhere


(Acts 4:32,36,37; 9:26,27; 11:22-30)

Lesson 10 -- first quarter 1997
February 2, 1997

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

"He was a good man." That was Barnabas for you--a man who "had it all together," a Christian who "did it all right," an individual of uncompromised integrity and perfection. Do you believe all that? I don't. Barnabas was a human with a propensity for occasional shortcomings (Acts 15:36- 39; Galatians 2:13). Nonetheless, the testimony of the Lord in His Word is that Barnabas was a good man!

Let's be sure we understand what good means in this verse. My source includes these defining terms: useful, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, excellent, upright, honorable. Though Barnabas was certainly far from perfect and sinless, we can have no doubt that he possessed extraordinary qualities which made him stand out in the church. Barnabas must have been the type of person of whom the Lord spoke in Matthew 12:35--"A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things."

We are told that Barnabas was a good man so that we might understand something else the Bible tells us about him. Barnabas "exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." The goodness of the Lord at work in and manifesting itself through us results in exhortation and encouragement for others. We know there are many ways of trying to measure and manifest goodness, but for this lesson, let's limit it to encouragement of others. Do others receive enough encouragement and exhortation from me to merit labeling me "good"?

What about you? What is found in the treasure house that is your heart? If it has malice, bitterness, suspicion, lust, anger, unforgiveness, worldliness, pride, self-pity, impatience and selfish ambition, that is what you will bring forth. Nothing good! On the other hand, if you make the conscious decision to use the Scriptures and allow the Spirit to replace all such evil with God's thoughts and ways, you also will be a good person.

"Much people was added to the Lord." A Barnabas magnifies the drawing effect of the Gospel. Why? Because the Barnabas life enhances, clarifies and proves the Barnabas message. Could this verse contain an explanation for the stagnation in the church today? We would prefer to think that our message is rejected because it is unpopular despite being true. And I won't deny that such may indeed be the case. However, this verse makes me wonder if a more likely answer lies in our low marks as encouragers.

What constitutes encouragement? Sometimes we encourage people with our words. Don't back off from saying the sincere kind word. Don't be shy about complimenting an individual who has done or said something well (just beware of flattery!). Be quick to express appreciation. Have a ready word of blessing you have received, be it from the Scriptures, a song, a thought, a book or someone else.

Other times we encourage people with our deeds. Perhaps you can meet a material need. Maybe you can offer to help with a project of some sort. How about getting your assignment done well, on time and cheerfully? Clean an elderly person's yard, offer a young couple an evening together by babysitting for them, do some canning for the extra-busy deacon's wife or tune up the preacher's vehicles.

We can also encourage others with our own attitudes. Yup, that's right! Be submissive and cooperative. Aim for cheerfulness (a lack here is so wearing on those around you!). Let the joy of the Lord be your strength.

Return to Sunday School Comments index

[Anabaptists: The Web Page]