Summary: The need to encourage others
Intro: Picture yourself with me back in the early church. Jesus has died, risen, and ascended back into heaven. The apostles are in charge of the early church. These are the twelve who had been taught by Jesus. They do signs, wonders, and miracles. The church looks to them for leadership. And the church is growing like wildfire: thousands upon thousands being saved. Yet, with many people, there are many needs. And the apostles cannot meet them all. Look with me in Acts 4, as we see how these needs are met. We want to learn this morning from a man with a great heart: Cyprus Joe. Joe, the Levite from Cyprus. He is one of the most important men in the New Testament, and one with a message to share to each one of us today.
Read Acts 4:32-37 Pray
We find here recorded for us the story of the early church. They met in the temple courts and from house to house. They shared together, ate together, fellowshiped together, prayed together, and ministered to the needs of one another. There were apostles providing leadership for the church. Peter was there to stand up one the day of Pentecost and deliver a rousing sermon. But it was through their ministry to one another that the needs were met. So many times we think that the most important part of any church is the pastor. But, we see that it is really as the individual Christians in the church rise up and minister to the needs of one another that the church grows. Last week we talked about the need for us to follow Christ and progress in our faithfulness throughout our lives. But the call to follow Christ is also the call to serve one another.
Let’s learn from Barnabas about how we can minister to one another’s needs.
I. Barnabas used his gifts to help the body of Christ
Here we see this man, really named Joseph, is an interesting figure. He sells off some land, yet we see that he is a levite. Remember with me that Levites were not known for owning a lot of land. When the tribes of Israel entered the promised land, the land was divided up between the tribes, but the Levites were not given land, because they were to be devoted to the service of the Lord. Yet here is Barnabas, having land - probably a small property that was passed down to him - yet he is willing to give it up for the sake of the believers who were in need. Barnabas was not from Jerusalem, rather from Cyprus, an island many miles away. Yet he makes himself one with these fellow believers. In Christ, you can go a thousand miles away, walk in a church, and be one with people you have never met before in your life. Joseph cared enough about the needs of these Jerusalem Jews to give up his property to meet their needs.
It says the apostles knew Joseph: there was something that made him stand out. In the church at Jerusalem are thousands of converts to Judaism, yet this man Joseph is well known to the apostles, so much so that they have even given him a nickname: Barnabas, Son of encouragement. Cyprus Joe is so well known for his encouragement that it becomes his nickname: he is known for using his gifts.
What are you known for this morning? If I would go to your neighborhood, or your family, or your work place, what would people say about you? So often we go to funerals, and the preacher stands up and tries to finds something good to say about someone with few good points. Let’s make a commitment that we will choose to be identified now for the good we do.
Barnabas had a special gift. In Romans 12:4-8 we find these truths mentioned about Christians and their gifts: Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Barnabas had a gift of encouragement, and he used it to build up the believers. He offered encouragement wherever he was.
II. Barnabas used his gifts consistently throughout his life.