Every student in school at some point learns of Sir Isaac Newton’s famed encounter with a falling apple which led to his discovery and introduction of the laws of gravity in the 1600’s – laws that revolutionized astronomical studies. However, few know that if it weren’t for Edmund Halley, the world might never have learned from Newton.

It was Halley who challenged Newton to think through his original notions. It was Halley who corrected Newton’s mathematical errors and prepared geometrical figures to support his discoveries. It was Halley who encouraged, edited, supervised the publication, and financed the printing of Newton’s great work, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Historians call Halley’s efforts one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science.

Newton almost immediately began to reap the rewards of prominence while Halley received little credit. Halley did, however, use the Mathematical Principles to predict the orbit and return of the comet that would later bear his name. But it was only after his death that he received any acclaim for his work. He remained a devoted and selfless scientist who didn’t care who received the credit as long as the cause was being advanced.

Selflessness is one of the admirable traits of the Christian life. Believers don’t seek the spotlight or crave attention or recognition; they simply strive to advance the Kingdom of God. In the New Testament, Barnabas was a prime example. He helped the early church by being an encouragement as he sold a field he owned to be used to help the members. It was Barnabas that brought Saul to the apostles in Jerusalem explaining how Saul had been converted on the Damascus Road. It was Barnabas who was sent to Antioch when news reached Jerusalem about people there trusting in Jesus to encourage them and help them in their faith. It was Barnabas that became an important companion of Paul and helped in the spread of the gospel to the known world. It was Barnabas that took a spiritually wounded Mark and helped him to be useful once again. If it weren’t for a selfless Barnabas, who knows how the story of Paul might have changed.

Barnabas understood greatness from Jesus’ perspective: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

May we all be selfless in advancing the Kingdom of God!

To His Glory,

Pastor Bill