Summary: A series of character sketches through the book of Acts - Barnabas.
Acts 4:36-37 – God’s Power Through God’s People #5: Barnabas
Today’s message carries a serious lesson for all of us: the importance of one another. We will see how crucial it is for each of us as believers to invest in the lives of others. Today’s message is based on Barnabas, a character used by God in the early days of the church. Let’s read together Acts 4:36-37.
This is the 1st time we meet Barnabas, but not the last. He continues through the book of Acts until chapter 15. Acts 11:24 uses a whole verse to describe his character and the effects of his ministry: “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
In fact, as I read that verse over and over, I think how much I wish that would describe my life. Pat was a good man. He was full of the Holy Spirit, and full of faith too. And because of how he lived his life, many people found God. Yes, Barnabas is a good role model.
So what was he like, then? What did he do that was so important? Well, the key verses do a good job of summing it up. He encouraged people. So much so, that the apostles figured a good name for this guy named Joseph would be “Son of Encouragement”. You know, Joe, you’re a great guy. You always lift people up. You always make them feel better. I think we should say that Encouragement is your father. Yeah, Son of Encouragement. Let’s call you Barnabas!
That’s quite something. To provide others with so much encouragement they nickname you for it. I’m thinking I could use a few more of those people in my life. Maybe you heard about the buffalo that were peacefully grazing on the open range when a cowboy rode up. He stared at them for several minutes and then he blurted out, "You are such ugly creatures! Your hind legs are longer than your front ones; you have humps on your backs, shaggy hair, beady eyes and tails with bushes at the end. Ugh! Disgusting!"
Then he rode away. "Gee," one buffalo remarked to the other, "I think we just heard a discouraging word."
Ever feel that way? Ever feel surrounded by discouragement? Let me tell you, school sometimes feels that way. The negative, complaining voices seem so much louder than the happy, contented ones. Giving an assignment is met by a collection of groans, but not from everyone, not from the ones who like school learning, but from the ones who don’t like classroom work. Very often, destructive comments are louder and more frequent than constructive comments.
I think that we need to be Barnabases in this world. It seems to be that the negative, complaining voices are too loud, and there needs to be a difference, and that difference should start with us. We love to complain: about politicians, about weather, about the economy, about the sinfulness of the world… and all of these may be true. But just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be expressed like verbal diarrhea.
Frankly, our words reflect our attitudes. Colossians 4:6 says: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Are our words graceful and salty? That is, do our words bring hope and forgiveness, and make people thirsty for God?
After all, look at Barnabas. How did his encouragement help make the world a better place? The 1st time we meet him, we find that he sold a field and gave the proceeds to the apostles to distribute to those in need. That’s certainly a helpful attitude to have. Barnabas may or may not have been rich, but he was indeed generous. That was part of his encouraging nature.
In Acts 11:30, we can see that he transported some financial help from one church to another in need. That’s a great thing. He was trustworthy, and there’s something to be said about that. I heard a Christian speaker years ago say that ushers must tithe. He demanded it of his ushers. If not, who’s to say that the ushers wouldn’t go in the backroom and help themselves to the money. I heard the gasps from the audience, at the thought that ushers would do such a thing. Then the speaker said, “Well, why wouldn’t they? They’re already robbing God.” Silence. Ouch. Being trusted with God’s money is a wonderful privilege, not to be taken lightly.
In Acts 13, we see the believers clustered together, praying, worshipping and fasting. The Holy Spirit told them to set apart Barnabas and Saul, another guy we’ll talk about in a minute, to do some missionary work. The believers prayed for the 2 guys and sent them off to do God’s work. We can see that God trusted him with His work. You know, God trusts us all with the most important work of all: to love people for Jesus. God doesn’t expect you to do what someone else does. All He asks is that you do what you do. Ask Him to love the world through you. Ask Him what direction He wants to lead you. Ask Him to guide you. Ask Him to give you power to be the person He wants you to be. You don’t have to be Barnabas, but you do have to be yourself.