Replaced but Not Resentful

October 30, 2019

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man,” Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. Acts 13:1-4

Barnabas was a godly man with no blemishes on his record. He was initially teamed up in church leadership with Saul/Paul. Paul had plenty of black marks on his record. He called himself the chief of sinners because he was a blasphemer and a persecutor of all the followers of Jesus until Jesus confronted him in a vision on the road to Damascus. Saul was changed, and his name was changed to Paul. Paul started serving Jesus after Barnabas had already been following. Paul was a relative newcomer to the party.

The Holy Spirit told the church to especially appoint Paul and Barnabas to do missionary work together. They were sent out with much prayer and confidence. From the beginning it always was Barnabas and Saul, the mentor and the mentee. But suddenly, in Acts 13 and 14, everything changes. Paul is used to do a powerful miracle and then preaches an anointed and convicting message. From that point on, Paul was the recognized leader of their mission team. From then on, it was Paul and Barnabas.

Not many people can go graciously from first team to second team, from top billing to second place. But Barnabas was humble. There is not a single indication that he had any problem with it. He was a true follower of Jesus and must have realized deep within himself that Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said the path to greatness is through humble service. He clearly understood that the mission is far more important than our applause and recognition. But we ALL know that. The reason there was no stress, no church split, is because he was willing to live that out.

Barnabas didn’t fight to protect his turf or power, as if it was really his in the first place. He knew all he had was because it was given to him. He had a passion to exalt Jesus, not himself. His goal was to build the kingdom. The church flourished through his humble service.

  • Father, help me focus on You and what is best for Your work. Help me to remember it is not about me but what is going to be best for the kingdom. Help me to know when to step aside with a grateful attitude. Amen.