Son of Consolation

This is the second of two articles once written by David Johnson about Barnabas. I learned a lot from them, and I hope you enjoy them too. – Tim

Paul’s encouragement to help others is well stated in Galatians 6:10. “As we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the household of faith.”

Barnabas was a good example of this quality. It is said about him that he was “a man of faith.” He had faith in God, in Christ, and in the church.

He also had faith in men.

When Saul, one of the greatest enemies the church had ever experienced, came to Jerusalem and claimed to be a Christian, he wasn’t believed. Acts 9:26 says the church was afraid. But there was one who did believe him – Barnabas! He defended Saul and gave the church a lesson on the man’s conversion. This took courage.

On another occasion, John Mark, writer of the gospel that bears his name, had misgivings about mission work and went home, abandoning Paul and the work he was trying to do. This upset the apostle. But later, Mark had a change of heart and came back ready to go on a new mission trip with Paul. But he refused Mark’s proposition, having doubts about his sincerity.

Again, Barnabas stepped in. He was ready to take Mark back and had a sharp disagreement with Paul over it. As a result, the two great men separated – Paul with Silas and Barnabas with Mark. Years later, Paul recognized Mark’s integrity and gave him important work to do.

It is interesting that Barnabas’ name is a verbal picture of himself – SON OF CONSOLATION. He was a peaceful sunset after a storm. How we need Christians like that.

– David Johnson

The Grinch

One of the most amusing characters this time of year is the Grinch, who despises Christmas and has a generally negative personality. People like him have been around for a long time.

Such a man was encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 when they took the gospel to Cyprus and the household of the Roman Governor. In his employ was a magician named, ironically, Bar-Jesus (meaning the son of someone named Jesus), aka Elymas. When Paul tried to teach the gospel to the governor, Elymas kicked up an awful fuss and tried to “turn the proconsul away from the faith” (v8). He was a first-class Grinch. Paul said to him, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?” (v9) That’s quite an indictment against this troublesome man.

How many times have people tried to turn others away from the good news of Jesus Christ? Or made crooked the straight ways of the Lord? We often see modern-day versions of Elymas, who do all they can to discourage others.

Sometimes we can have a Grinch-attitude by criticizing good things that may simply be new, different, inconvenient, or something that threatens the status-quo. I’m not talking about matters that are rebellious or un-Biblical, which are rightly rejected. But good and righteous things are sometimes criticized just because we don’t like to consider change.

The New Testament urges us to be positive, kind, open to that which is good, Biblical and helpful. “Encourage one another day after day” (Heb.3:13). “Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thess.5:11). Faith has an open attitude to God and the brethren. “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12).

Let’s make sure the Grinch is just a fairy-tale, not a reality within us.

– Tim Johnson