Vol.X No.VII Pg.3
September 1973

Cleaving That Counts

Dan S. Shipley

When Barnabas came up to the great pagan city of Antioch (Acts 11), he found there a young church made up of Jews and a great number of Greeks that believed and turned unto the Lord (v. 20, 21). Antioch was noted for its vice and immorality, much of which was promoted in the name of religion at the temple of Daphne, a popular Greek goddess. Such surroundings, along with the continual opposition from hostile Jews, would make loyalty to the Lord a difficult task for these first-graders in the faith. They had made a good beginning, for which Barnabas was glad (v. 23), but now they were faced with the matter of perseverance, the perennial problem for all of Gods people. So what teaching could have been more pertinent to their needs? ... and he exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord (v. 23).

Cleaving that counts is with purpose. As someone has put it, a purpose is the eternal condition of success. It is most certainly a condition of faithfulness. Cleaving unto the Lord (lit., abiding with) is a matter of planned persistence; it is premeditated perseverance. Every act of faithfulness should be the result of careful deliberation. Worship, for instance, becomes more meaningful for those who have mentally prepared themselves to participate in spirit-with reverence and attentiveness. In fact, whatever one does as a matter of cleaving unto the Lord is something that deserves to be done with purpose and preparation. Perhaps one reason why we dont stay with the Lord better is that we dont plan to! God deserves something better than an aimless, drifting, off-the-cuff, extemporaneous kind of obedience— and that something better involves a purposed cleaving —and more.

Barnabas adds another important dimension to this cleaving by relating it to the heart; it is to be a heart-purposed kind of faithfulness. Therefore, it involves sincerity like the obeying from the heart of Rom. 6:17 —as opposed to merely professing a purposed cleaving. As man wills with the heart (mind), it also connotes an attitude of willingness, an essential element of steadfastness. Also, purpose of heart relates to the understanding and intellect. Abiding with the Lord is intelligent cleaving based on what one knows and believes. Viewed thusly, we get down to the real heart of purposed cleaving —and see the folly of half-hearted efforts in that direction.

Still another important part of cleaving that counts is that it is Lord-oriented; unto the Lord. Faithfulness is not a matter of loyalty to the church or to a majority of the brethren! In fact, cleaving with men may result in leaving the Lord (as the Corinthians learned, 1 Cor. 5). And the reverse is just as true. Because we are the Lords (Rom. 14:18), every relationship and activity is essentially as unto the Lord (See Matt. 25:45; Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:23). How this needs remembering We live unto the Lord (Rom. 14:18) —which shows the constant and comprehensive nature of this cleaving. See why the good man included purpose and heart? Good men still do.