What kind of men ought we to be?
I think a lot about what it means to finish well in life. So many men become disengaged and cynical and relegate spiritual growth to simply being a good person and attending church occasionally. But this posture will not help us finish well.
Finishing well means putting some things to rest in our hearts. Some of it has to do with our own relationship to our fathers. Several years ago I was told by a good friend in no uncertain terms: “Your past may explain you but it does not excuse you.” Ouch! Wallowing in regret and unresolved heart stuff keeps the excuses going. It impacts everything in my life. Some men go through their entire lives trying to live up to their father’s expectations. While others simply give in and give up. Their spirit withers as we play little games to validate who we are.
Some me yearn to hear, “Well done, son” and have never heard it. All of these struggles are related to identity, meaning and value as a man. To be “in Christ” is to hear our heavenly father way, “Well done, I am proud of you.”
Finishing well begins now – thoughts, habits and character. It has been said,
“Sow a thought-reap an action.
Sow an action-reap a habit.
Sow a habit-reap a character.”
There is one man in Scripture that stands out as a man of character. He is Joseph, a Levite from the Greek island of Cyprus. But it is his other name, Barnabas, which provides insight into his character. His name means Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36). This man of encouragement shows up at every critical juncture in the life of the early church. He did not flinch from responsibility and gained a reputation of dependability and care for others. Consider the following CHARACTERristics of the Barnabas life.
The Barnabas Life
Takes risks for the sake of others. When Paul needed and introduction to the Apostles because of his past, Barnabas led the way. (Acts 9:27)
Encourages others consistently. When news got back to Jerusalem that good things were happening among the Gentiles in Antioch, the leaders sent Barnabas to check it out. “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” (Acts 11:23)
Trustworthy with money. When there was a famine in Judea, the Antioch church sent Barnabas and Saul to give relief funds and resources to the brethren. (Acts 11:36)
Next post we will continue with additional characteristics of the Barnabas Life.