Here is the continuation of an edited transcript of the above sermon which began yesterday:
Who did Barnabas Encourage?
First of all, and it may seem like a slightly funny place to start, he encouraged his leaders. Have you ever thought about that, that leaders need encouragement too? I know one or two of you are sitting here this morning thinking: “I want to be a leader?” Are you so sure? Leadership can be a real challenge. People that you love turn on you; people that you help sometimes disappear. It’s not easy sometimes. It’s a great privilege and it’s a great blessing. Leaders need encouragement. It’s quite literally about putting courage back into them sometimes when it has drained away. Barnabas encouraged his leaders, in this case by bringing them the money. The important point is this, they were encouraged and that’s why the called him the “Son of Encouragement”. Hebrews 13:17 says: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Brothers and sisters it’s a real delight to be part of the leadership team here at Jubilee, and I know the four elders very well. I can tell you this; they don’t groan about their work here, they love their work here because you do respond to them so well. But be encouraged to keep doing that.
Barnabas was all in, he wasn’t on the fringes, he was comitted. He gave because he believed in the vision. His example still inspires people today just as it did then. It inspires people to genuine, sacrificial giving. Just as he gave his field to the purposes of God. Unfortunately sometimes, just like in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, it may encourage people to give out of wrong motives. ‘Show me’ giving or giving to impress others, or, giving to get something back from God. I don’t believe Barnabas gave in order to get back from God. He gave because he loved God. He loved the vision.
Encouraging the needy
Barnabas gave in a sense to encourage or strengthen the needy. Sometimes I think when we give money directly to the poor, it’s quite difficult. He wanted to do it via the apostles, he trusted the apostles to distribute. But he did know what the money was going to be used for. So he spent himself on behalf of those who could never repay him.
What do we learn from this episode? I think I already said, big people do not need a big role or big title or big office in order to make a big impact.
But also, when your heart is sold out for God, as we see Barnabas’ was and as we will see as we go through the story of his life, opportunities to serve God soon follow.
During this phase of his life John Piper says of Barnabas that “Barnabas earned a reputation for caring for the underdog.” Maybe you feel like an underdog this morning. Well, God cares for you and there are those of us here that can care for you and lift you. That’s what Barnabas did, he wanted to respect and lift and honor people rather than tread all over them.
Encouraging a new convert
In Acts 9, Saul the persecutor becomes a Christian. Barnabas’ attitude is very different from the rest of the believers. The rest are rejecting Paul, they want nothing to do with him. They think he is probably a spy and that he’s going to arrest them. Even if he’s not that, they see him as perhaps a brash young man. Paul caused trouble wherever he went. Barnabas’ attitude was very simple “if I have been accepted by God, why would I not accept somebody else?” Barnabas accepts him and advocates for him with the apostles as it says in Acts 9:27 “Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord who spoke to him and how at Damascus he preached boldly in the name of Jesus.” You have to ask “Where would Paul have been without this help, without this encouragement from Barnabas?”
To be continued…