Summary: How do we encourage brothers and sisters in Christ
The two men stood on the wharf, looking across the shimmering water, seeing their final destination only in their hearts. They were about to begin a journey that would not only change them, but would change the world. One was known throughout the church, the other, some people knew his name. He was a relative new comer, with a shady past and a spotty reputation. Those who did know about him figured that he wouldn’t last long, that he’d just be a flash in the pan. Here today, and gone tomorrow. One was sailing to a foreign port; the other, he was simply going home. It’s funny how history is though, because 2000 years later the man who was less known is now considered one of the pivotal people in the history of the early church. The man who was known throughout the church is now merely a footnote in church history.
Earlier in the service Karen read from Acts 13 and part of what she is read was Acts 13:2 One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work I have for them.”
Well we know who Saul was, he was the man we now know as Paul. Paul who was the persecutor of the early church. Paul whose life was dramatically changed on the Damascus Road. Paul who wrote the majority of the New Testament. Paul who was the catalyst for the Christian Church to become more then another Jewish Sect. We all know who Saul was; he was Paul. But who was this man Barnabas?
Acts 11:24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And large numbers of people were brought to the Lord.
And so we are told that Barnabas was a good man. What a drab description to give someone, a good man. Or at least that would be the feeling of many people. To them good just isn’t very interesting, you know if you want to live a dull life then just be good. Too many people feel that sin writes history while goodness is silent. We’ve even come to the place that our heroes are at the very best tolerable, but seldom are they good.
Dr. John Gossip, a theologian from Scotland wrote “It is held by many people as a first axiom that holiness is a dull affair, and God’s company intolerably dreary and that for vividness and colour and interest you must look elsewhere.” It would seem that nobody gives goodness much credit these days and yet without goodness why live?
Without Goodness then the atheist are right, without goodness why strive to make the world a better place. No, sin is not the only author of history, throughout history good men have had an impact and have changed our world. From Martin Luther to John Calvin, from John Wesley to John Newton good men have made a difference. Where would our world be with the Lincolns, without the Grahams, without the Livingstons and without the Schweitzers. What a dreary world this would be without the Martin Luther Kings and Mother Theresas .
Our country was founded and built on the foundation stones of moral goodness; even the very name the Dominion of Canada is a direct Biblical reference. Goodness is not dull, it’s vibrant, and it’s not boring it’s exciting.
But what else do we know about Barnabas? Other then that he was good, or maybe the other things we find out about him will help define his goodness.
The first time we come across Barney is in the book of Acts 4:36-37 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles for those in need.
1) He Was Generous. From this scripture we know that Barnabas was a Levite, that is he belonged to the family of priests who served Israel. We know that he was from Cyprus, which happened to be in the same place then as it is now, here in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. And we know that he sold a field that he owned and brought the money to the apostles.
Why would he do that? Maybe he had been back in the crowd when Jesus told the young Lawyer in Matthew 19:21 “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Or perhaps he had watched other believers as they used their combined resources for the common good of the body. Or maybe it was just Barnabas’ way of saying, “Here you go God, you can have all of me, including my field.” You know that our financial attitudes are often indicative of our spiritual attitudes. As a matter of fact Jesus said that how you handle your money is a pretty good measurement of your spiritual state.