Summary: Like Barnabas, we can either be stumbling blocks or stepping stones for Christ.
Acts 4:36-37; 11:23-26
On the path of life, do you tend to be a stumbling block or a stepping stone person? Are you living for Christ in such a connected and convincing fashion that you pick people up instead of tripping them up? Does your winsome witness help others step up to faith in Christ, or does your ad for the heavenly Dad trip people who are enroute to discovering the Christian way?
Let’s examine a portrait of one of God’s hall of fame members. His name was Barnabas, and he was a consummate stepping stone person. The following characteristics create the composite of a stepping stone person.
A stepping stone person is generous. Acts 4:36-37
After the formation of the early church at Pentecost, the early Christians needed some financial fuel. Generous Barnabas sold a field to invest this temporal resource into God’s eternal purpose.
Times have not changed. Christ’s church is still built on three books: The Bible, the hymnbook and the checkbook! George Truett added it up like this, "How a person relates to his possessions tells you a great deal about that person."
For instance, a young farmer was wanting to get married, so he advertised for a wife in the "Farmer’s Journal." The ad read: "Marrying age young farmer needs wife with tractor. Please send picture of tractor."
Many people sell their souls for stuff. Barnabas sold his stuff for souls.
He had a kingdom vision. A balcony perspective. Are you a generous person? Have you fashioned from your resources of time, talent and treasure stepping stones that will have an eternal impact for God’s glory? R. G. Lee observed, "Everything in this world will pass. Only what’s done for Christ will last."
Dr. Bill Thorne, a former president of Dallas Baptist University is now retired.
But he still remains one of my favorite speakers. He has an incredible sense of humor and reflects what the writer of Proverbs tells us, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." After he retired, he began speaking quite extensively and was the guest speaker at a seminar I attended.
One story he told was about growing up in a parsonage. He said his Dad was a pastor and they always lived in church provided housing. He said, “You know what a parsonage is? It’s just a lean-to…something to stand under to keep you out of the rain. The parsonage was always the worst house in town. People would drive blocks out of their way to avoid taking visitors past the parsonage for the Baptist Church. One day, one of the deacons who worked for the highway department decided to paint the house. He got several gallons of the yellow paint that they used to stripe the highways. After the painting was completed, fire trucks came from seven counties to try to put out the fire.”
He began by talking about the fact that Jesus said, "Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also." His theme was "One foot in heaven." He stated he was a senior adult and he had one foot in heaven. But he indicated that was not altogether bad, because he had a pretty substantial investment in heaven. He had invested his earthly treasure and his earthly ministry attempting to provide riches in heaven. But his focus was not totally on the things of heaven. He also spoke of leaving "One foot on earth." He told how he and Mrs. Thorne had given money to projects that would last beyond his life on this earth. "One foot in heaven. One foot on earth." Not a bad legacy for any one to leave.
Like Barnabas, we need to become sharing, giving, generous persons whose resources are transformed into eternal stepping stones.
A stepping stone person is encouraging. Acts 4:36
Etched in Barnabas’ name was a portrait of his central characteristic. Although he was tabbed by his parents as Joseph, like Simon and Saul, his name was changed to reflect character development.
Maybe you have a nickname that reflects a characteristic. Everyone knows a redhead named Rusty. Or a left-handed person named Lefty. I ate at a restaurant out by the lake and the Manager was a large man around 6’ 6” tall. He went by the name of “Tiny.” Yet, on a spiritual level, if Jesus renamed you according to a central theme within your personality, what would he re-tag you?
My folks had a card game that they loved to play. It was called “Nasty Neighbor.” They played it as often as they could with my aunts and uncles.
My Dad’s sister and her husband lived in Topeka Kansas, and as I grew up, I never remember my grandmother calling my uncle’s name without adding an expletive to it. His name was that !@*&^^? Frank.