Editorial: Barnabas or Barnacle

It was not more than fifty yards away. With awe I watched as it rose majestically from the waters. Its sheer size, power, and beauty left me speechless. As the humpback whale breached, however, I could not help but notice something else. There, on the sides of the whale’s head, were attached scores of barnacles. They contributed nothing to the power of this majestic creature. They added nothing to its dignity or beauty. They were simply “along for the ride.”

Well known to us all is the life of Barnabas, a “son of consolation.” Wherever we follow him in the Acts of the Apostles, we discover him being a help and encouragement. Along for the ride? Quite the contrary! Here was a believer who came with a desire to help in every instance.

We see him first in Acts 4:36 giving what he had to further the ministry of the assembly. What an encouragement he must have been to the apostles! Perhaps his greatest ministry of help was in connection with the apostle Paul. It was Barnabas who recommended him to the assembly in Jerusalem and who then went to Tarsus to bring him to Antioch (Acts 9:27; 11:25).

What a help he was to the assembly in Antioch (Acts 11:22-24); what joy he brought to the assemblies in Samaria and Phenice (Acts 15:3); what consolation he brought wherever he went!

Also, it may well be that the recovery of an erring servant, John Mark, is attributable to the ministry and patience of Barnabas.

Headlines and limelights were not Barnabas’ venue. He was not a consultant to the work or a “cruise-control” saint. He was a “help” in every way possible.

The challenge to each of us is, “Am I Barnabas, or am I a barnacle?” Am I just along for the ride or is there an exercise in my soul to try to be a help in the assembly? Some come and go for years, content to be in the right place, content to enjoy the blessings of God’s assembly, but never thinking that they can be a help. Some feel that if they have not been gifted in some outstanding manner, then they are relegated to simply “going along for the ride.” It is not so much an unwillingness, but a failure to consider that God has placed me here, not just “for the ride,” but to be a positive source of help – to add to the power, beauty, majesty, and fruitfulness of the assembly.

There are many valuable believers who, like Barnabas, seek to help and encourage wherever possible. A word to a young believer who, falteringly, seeks to give a word of ministry or in the gospel; a note of encouragement to a distant missionary or not-so-distant worker; a brief visit to a shut-in to share a verse from the Word of God; a small unnoticed task done at the hall to prepare it for the convenience of the assembly – these and a myriad others are among the ways we can be a help and encouragement one to another.

Barnabas or barnacle? Help or hanger-on? Not only is there something for everyone to do, but there is more than any of us could ever do. How vital then, to realize that God has placed me here to be a help and to further His work in His assembly!