Acts 11:23, 24 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.

The above words were written of the Christian Barnabas. While not a perfect man (Galatians 2:13), he was an exceptionally good man. He was one of the few Jews in his age that could see God at work among people who were not Jews. Not only could he see God’s grace at work, but he could be delighted that God’s work was obviously being done among people who were not proselytes!

His exceptional commitment was obvious in four ways. (1) He was an encourager. He helped people come even closer to the Lord Jesus. (2) He was a “good man.” Knowing the Lord only magnified his commitment to being a “good man.” (3) He was full of the Holy Spirit. He encouraged God’s influence in his life. [See 1 Thessalonians 5:19.] (4) He was full of faith in God’s work in Jesus. Perhaps the reasons for his being a good man were found in these facts: (a) he did not resist God’s influence in his life, and (b) he encouraged within himself faith in God’s purposes in Jesus Christ.

Some commitments are fairly easy, and some commitments are extremely difficult. May I make five observations about hard commitments. [Commonly, hard commitments are commitments which are unpopular.] If a person is to make a hard commitment, there are five stages when he or she may encounter difficulty.

(1) Simply getting started, actually beginning.
(2) Continuing in the face of discouragement.
(3) Continuing in the reality of opposition.
(4) Knowing when to pass the torch to another.
(5) Knowing when you have achieved your goal.

The last two may not seem to belong in the list. However, hard commitments are usually commitments to something bigger than yourself. If that is true of your difficult commitment, inevitably it means you must know when to step aside. I always admired John because he knew someone greater than he would fulfill a greater purpose (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 3:27-30). Fulfilling a personal goal to be useful to God’s purposes does not preclude passing the torch. We must never forget that God’s purposes do not begin and end with us! For us, thankfully, God’s purposes did not end in the first century. It is enough to aid God’s purpose without being God’s purpose! Never be deceived by your own arrogance! Lowliness blesses, but arrogance curses!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 25 May 2006

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