Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 1 2020 - Acts 9:26-43 – The value of quiet service

And then there is Barnabas. He plays a larger part than Ananias, but again, it’s a minor role compared with that of Paul. Paul had been under threat for his life and only escaped Damascus by being lowered from the city wall in a basket. When he arrived back in Jerusalem he tried to join the Christian community there. They, however, were reluctant to accept him, fearing perhaps that he was merely pretending to be a disciple in order to infiltrate their ranks and destroy them from the inside.

We have come across Barnabas before. He had sold a field and given the money to the apostles to meet the needs of the poor (Acts 4:34-37). His real name was Joseph, but the apostles had renamed him Barnabas, Son of Encouragement or Encourager, because of this preeminent aspect of his character. And it was Barnabas the encourager who spent time with Paul, listening to his story and then introducing him to the apostles. It is through the friendship and care of Barnabas that Paul was welcomed into the Christian fellowship in Jerusalem.

But before long, Paul had to flee also from Jerusalem. Again it was the Greek speaking Jews who drove him out – those who once had embraced him as an ally against Steven. Luke tells us that it was only after Paul had left Jerusalem that the church enjoyed a time of peace and growth. Paul may have begun to doubt the calling he had received from the risen Lord Jesus. Was he more of a curse to the church than a blessing? It will take Barnabas again to thrust him into the work for which he is being prepared – but that’s a later story.

Don’t underestimate the contribution made to the kingdom by simple acts such as that of welcoming and encouraging the newcomer. Who knows, such acts may be instrumental in nurturing a ministry that will be used of God to transform the lives of thousands.

For the moment Paul is out of sight and the focus returns to the ministry of Peter. We read that while Peter was visiting Lydda, he was told of a Christian lady named Tabitha (or Dorcas in Greek) who had died in the neighbouring town of Joppa. Peter was summoned to come at once. Dorcas was well known for her acts of kindness and Peter was greeted by widows standing around the bedside of the dead woman, crying and showing him the clothes she had made for them. Through the power of the risen Saviour, Peter was able to raise Dorcas to life again and restore her to her friends. No doubt she continued to devote herself to meeting the needs of others.

We know nothing else about this dear lady, except that her remarkable restoration to life brought many others to faith. There was nothing extraordinary about her except that she devoted herself to meeting the needs of others out of love for Christ. Here is a lady who provides us with a model of Christian discipleship. Are we “always doing good and helping the poor”? What will people say about us when we are gone?

Lord Jesus, help me always to be an encourager that I may enable and promote the ministry of others in the work of your kingdom. May my love for you be expressed in a genuine love for others and a concern to meet their needs as far as it lies in my power. May I be known for doing good, not that I might gain a reputation for myself but that your name may be glorified and many others brought to faith in you.

Peter Misselbrook