Summary: Barnabas a man of intergrity, generosity and a man willing to develop the gits of others even at his own expense
Story: I once read a story in one of Richard Wurmbrand’s books.
“An elder of a local free Church in Communist Romania was brought before the judge for embezzlement - a crime he had not committed.
His defence lawyer started his defence summation by telling the Court of a well-known story about the man that was circulating around the village.
One day, the man had been attacked while he was taking the church collection home to bank the next day and the thieves made off with all the money.
Fearing for the eternal souls of the thieves, the elder called after them,
“You haven’t stolen the church collection, which I have at home, you have only taken my money and I give it to you freely.”
The Judge stopped the defence lawyer and said: “You don’t seriously believe that nonsense do you?”
The defence lawyer replied: “No”
“Then why are you bringing it up in my court” the judge growled.
The defence lawyer replied:
“My Lord, if someone had tried to start a rumour like
that about you or me, it would never have got off the ground.
The very fact that this rumour could even get off the ground is a testimony to my client’s character.”
And this morning I would like to look at Barnabas, a man with a wonderful Christian character, whose gift of generosity is mentioned at the end of Acts 4
It’s the same sort of character that Jesus wants his followers to have.
A Christian character to go with our Christian profession.
It isn’t easy – but God is more concerned about what is on the inside of us than externals.
I like Barnabas because he is a man of integrity.
In these verses in Acts, he is introduced to us for the first time in the Bible.
What do we know of Barnabas?
It is interesting that hardly anyone knows Barnabas’s real name – it was Joses.
He must have been a larger than life character for the apostles gave him a nickname —Barnabas, which means son of consolation or encouragement.
It comes from the same root as the name often used by the Lord when talking about the Holy Spirit—the Comforter.
Barnabas provided help, encouragement, comfort, and wisdom to those around him.
He was a man described as full of the Holy Spirit – and as such he acted as such in the lives of the apostles.
He was a Jew from the tribe of Levi.
He was a native of the Island of Cyprus.
He played an important role in two churches –
The Church in Jerusalem (the mother church) and The Church in Antioch (the great Missionary church that was Paul’s “sending Church – to use today’s parlance).
I would like to reflect on a few of his character traits this morning
1. Barnabas was a man with a big heart – a generous man
Here in our reading from the book of Acts, we read of him selling off land – presumably in Cyprus from where he came to help the church support those who needed money in the church.
We see Barnabas’s generous heart as he helps the Church in Jerusalem see that Paul really has been converted:
We read in Acts 9:
26 When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. (Acts 9:26-28)
2. Barnabas was a man of integrity
We read this in Acts 11:20-24 about the character of Barnabas
20 Some of the followers from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and many people turned to the Lord and put their faith in him. 22 News of what was happening reached the church in Jerusalem. Then they sent Barnabas to Antioch.23 When Barnabas got there and saw what God had been kind enough to do for them, he was very glad. So he begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 Barnabas was a good man of great faith, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Many more people turned to the Lord.
I believe that Barnabas was effective in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus because he not only “talked the talk” but “walked the walk”.