Barnabas the encourager
Who is your Barnabas and who are you a Barnabas to ?
With Peter Veysie
George Methodist Church
Sunday 30th August 2020
I am often going back in my mind and thinking over my ministry at the people who have stood out for me. In my 40 years of being called to the ministry, I can remember words of encouragement that way outweigh the negative – Mr Friend,David Buwalda,Michael Cassidy, Khozo Mgojo, Dad and Mom Veysie,Debbie, family and friends. It’s interesting that you may still have the narrative of the negative ones playing in your head but think of all the positives and those that have spoken life into you. I also know that it’s so important to be an encourager and to look for ways to support love and motivate others to be the best that they can be. As you have heard from Margie and Harry today they are a blessing to so many as encouragers including myself.
The questions we will look at today are: Who is your Barnabas and are you a Barnabas to(encourager).
Just a little background on Barnabas :
Barnabas was an early disciple in the New Testament church. He was a Levite from Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, about 120km off the coast of Israel. Barnabas later visited the island of Cyprus on the first missionary journey with Paul, and again on a second journey with Mark.
The given name of Barnabas was “Joseph” (Acts 4:36). When Barnabas became a Christian, he sold his land and gave the money to the Jerusalem church. Early in the history of the church, he went to Antioch to check on the growth of the Christians there, and then on to Tarsus. From there, he brought Saul (later named “Paul”), back to Antioch to help with the church in that city (the third largest in the Mediterranean world).
Because of his good reputation, Barnabas was able to calm the fears which the believers at Jerusalem had about Saul (Acts 9:27).
Later, Barnabas and Paul (along with John Mark) were commissioned to make a missionary journey to Cyprus and the provinces of Asia Minor (Acts 13:1-4). And still later, after a difference of opinion regarding whether or not to take Mark with them on a second journey, Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways (Acts 15:36-41).
Barnabas possessed exceptional spiritual qualities. He had an unshakable confidence in God.
We can learn four things about Barnabas and the reason why he was an encourager :
- Barnabas: a cheerful giver (Acts 4:36-37)
32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales.35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Barnabas had some financial resources. He was not married, and had no children. He sold his field and must have asked himself, “How much shall I give to the poor?” He decided not to give merely ten percent (or even fifty percent) — but the original language indicates that he gave it all to aid the poor in Jerusalem. Barnabas was a generous giver.
The church at Jerusalem was growing rapidly and believers were being added to the church daily. Because thousands of visitors were in Jerusalem at the time, there was need for material help in caring for the multitudes of people. Barnabas had land, and he decided to sell it, and give the total amount of money to the Apostles to be used as needed. Barnabas was a generous giver, and willing to give financially to help meet the needs of the early church. This was an indication of his love for the Lord, and his faith in the people who made up the church.
The generosity of Barnabas was surely a source of encouragement for the folks who were part of the early church.
2 Cor 9:7 talks about cheerful giving.
There was a real commitment by Barnabas to give both himself and his possesions to the ministry. He was motivated not by some manipulative sermon on tithing or the prosperity theology we hear so often today, but rather from a real inner sense of cheerfulness that what he was giving to he believed in and it had transformed his life to the point of encouraging others with his love for the Lord.
2) Barnabas: an honest faithful friend (Acts 9:26-27)
Proverbs 18:24 A person of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than even family.
The Jerusalem disciples were afraid of Saul, and were not willing to believe that he was a true follower of Christ. However, bighearted Barnabas “took” Saul and “brought him to the apostles” (verse 27) — and told them about Saul’s conversion, and how he preached boldly in Damascus. After Barnabas had testified in behalf of Saul, and explained the change that had taken place in his life, Saul was able to move about freely in the Christian circles at Jerusalem (verse 28).
It was Barnabas who brought Saul to Peter and James and the other leaders of the Jerusalem church, and enabled Saul to be accepted by the church there. Saul began contending for the faith among Greek-speaking Jews (verse 29), but it wasn’t long until the brethren shipped him home to Tarsus (verse 30), where he remained for seven or eight years — until he was brought back to Antioch to help with the work of the church there.
It is interesting that it’s recorded that Barnabas had a disagreement with Paul over Mark. I like the fact that true friendship means that you can speak honestly and openly if you don’t agree with your friend and still remain friends. Those friends also normally reamin faithful to you because there is nothing to hide and you just feel normal and at ease with them.
3) Barnabas: a real encourager (Acts 11:22-26)
Encouraging -give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)
1 Thess 5:11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
The verb “encouraged” (exhorted) is in the imperfect tense, which means that he repeatedly encouraged them to persevere in their loyalty to God. When Barnabas encouraged the people at Antioch to “Remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
Acts 11:23 -24
The description of Barnabas (in verse 24) is about as noble a portrayal as could be made of any human being. The writer of the Book of Acts says of Barnabas: “For he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” The three characteristics named here about Barnabas have become the major points in many a funeral sermon. A preacher is always happy when he can say those things about a member of his church who has been promoted to the eternal world.
He was a good man — he was generous and tenderhearted, a man of proven character and high moral standards. Barnabas was an honorable, respectable, and morally sound man.
He was full of the Holy Spirit — that is, he had experienced an endowment of power for witnessing and service. He was not driven by personal ambition and selfish desires. He was willing to work and let others get the credit.
He was overflowing with faith — he had strong convictions and a settled confidence in the reliability of God’s Word. He believed that God is able to transform persons who come to the Lord Jesus in faith and repentance.
4) Barnabas: a forgiving enabler buddy (Acts 15:36-41)
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ecclesiastes 4:10If one falls down,his friend can help him up. But pity the person who falls and has no one to help him up!
Ephesians 4:2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient,bearing with one another in love.
In spight of the clash with Paul, Barnabas chose to encourage Mark, a young man who didn’t have many friends. Barnabas must have said to himself, “John Mark needs me; if I don’t help him now, he may never amount to anything.” And so Barnabas took Mark with him, and they went back to re-visit churches that had been established on the earlier missionary journey. Tradition says that Barnabas stayed on the island of Cyprus until his death.
It is important to note that there were no nasty fights or bitter feelings between Paul and Barnabas. Paul later spoke very kindly about Barnabas (1 Corinthians 9:6). Paul also was convinced that Mark became a mature disciple of Jesus, and wrote to Timothy, encouraging him to come visit him in prison — and then he said (in essence), “Bring Mark with you because he is useful for ministry” (see 2 Timothy 4:11).
Barnabas truly deserves the highest commendation for his generous Christian spirit, and for his contribution toward the ongoing life and ministry of the early church. Had it not been for the unselfish concern of Barnabas, Paul might never have been accepted in the Jerusalem church, and Mark may have decided to give up serving the Lord. Instead, both men persevered, and more than half of the New Testament was written by them — thirteen epistles written by Paul, and one Gospel written by Mark.
We will remember Barnabas as a man disposed to kindness. He was a man with a warm heart and an open hand:
a cheerful giver (Acts 4:36-37)
an honest faithful friend (Acts 9:26-27)
a real encourager (Acts 11:22-26)
a forgiving enabler buddy (Acts 15:36-41
My we learn from Barnabas and strive to be the same. Amen