Barnabas of Cyprus: Give your bread to the poor

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And when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do. Galatians 2:9-10

“And so he speaks to them again concerning these things, “Why do you fast for me, says the Lord, so that your voice is heard crying out today? This is not the fast I have chosen, says the Lord — not a person humbling his soul. Not even if you bend your neck into a circle and put on sackcloth and make for yourself a bed of ashes — not even so should you call this a proper fast.”

But he says to us, “See, this is the fast I have chosen, says the Lord. Loosen every bond of injustice; unravel the strangle-hold of coercive agreements; send forth in forgiveness those who are downtrodden; tear up every unfair con­tract. Break your bread for the hungry, and provide clothing for anyone you see naked. Bring the homeless under your roof. And if you see anyone who has been humbled, do not despise him—neither you nor anyone from your children’s household.

Then your light will burst forth at dawn, your garments will quickly rise up, your righteousness will go forth before you, and the glory of God will clothe you. Then you will cry out and God will hear you. While you are still speaking he will say, ‘See! Here I am!’ — if, that is, you remove from yourself bondage, the threatening gesture, and the word of com­plaint, and from your heart you give your bread to the poor and show mercy to the person who has been humbled.”

The one who is patient anticipated, brothers, that the people he prepared in his beloved would believe, in a state of innocence. And so he revealed all things to us in advance, that we not be dashed against their law as newcomers.

Joseph (died A.D. 61) a.k.a. Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus in the Epistle of Barnabas 3:1-6.

Today, Barnabas quotes Isaiah 58:3-5 and then Isaiah 58:6-10 in declaring the motivation behind his patient and generous service to the poor. This should inspire us to study the Old Testament as the backdrop for the generous examples we see, like Barnabas, in the New Testament.

These early followers had the Law and the Prophets. They understood their fulfillment in Jesus. They then walked in His footsteps. Our Lord connected the dots for them. They believed and translated their belief into concrete, humble, and patient action toward the poor.

God caused their light to shine and wants to do the same for us today. Regardless of their ministry focus in the early church, as today’s Scripture notes, every served the poor. Do that with GTP. Don’t give people in need a handout. Be like the Barnabas. Give them a hand up. Click here to give.