“Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Act 15:25-26)
Jesus was very straightforward in demanding from His disciples to not follow Him if they loved their lives more than loving Him.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luk 14:26-27)
Risking life for the sake of Christ added credibility to a minister’s authenticity. Barnabas and Paul were not hirelings of men or those who had gone out into ministry because they thought this was a very profitable vocation. They knew the call of God over their lives and set out in obedience.
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead) (Gal 1:1)
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, (Gal 1:15-16)
I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, (Act 26:19)
Both Barnabas and Paul had no love for money or the things of the world.
And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Act 4:36-37)
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Phi 3:7-8)
For Paul, living meant Christ and Christ alone: For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Phi 1:21)
He didn’t consider his life to be more dear to him than to obey Christ.
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Act 20:24)
Another precious servant of God who didn’t consider his life dear to him was Epaphroditus, about whom Paul said: for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.” (Phi 2:30)
Jesus told to the Church at Smyrna: Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev 2:10)
Those who fear for their lives will not be able to serve Christ and fulfill the ministry they are given to fulfill. Jesus said that those who wish to save their lives will lose it (Matt.16:25). The fearful and cowardly will be cast into the Lake of fire (Rev.21:8).
Only those who have embraced the Cross of Christ are able to risk their lives for the sake of Christ.
Of course, Christ calls us to be wise. He said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Mat 10:16)
But, to be wise and to be fearful are opposite things. The fearful have no faith in Christ. They do not trust the promise:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Mat 10:28-31)
“But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Dan 11:32)