THE PEOPLE GOD USES BARNABAS THE ENCOURAGER
Acts 11:24; 4:36-37; 9:26-28; 11:19-28
Let’s take our Bibles and turn to the Book of Acts. We will read from chapters 4, 9, and 11.
I want to begin our devotion this morning by asking a question:
Whom does God choose to use when He wants to accomplish great things? More often then not He chooses the men and women who might be the last ones chosen for the first string in today’s world. But God chooses them, often out of obscurity, and elevates them to places of impact and significance.
Beginning today, we are going to meet 5 men who are almost hidden in the pages of the New Testament. Their brief biographies belie the contributions they made to the kingdom of God as a result of their faithfulness to God.
We will meet Barnabas, Onesiphorus, Epaphroditus, Stephen, and Epaphras. Strange, hard-to-pronounce names but great role models for us as we serve our Lord.
If you are like me, you probably have a set of jumper cables in your car. We never know when our battery made need a transfusion of power from another vehicle. In the same way, an encourager is like a set of jumper cables—the means by which courage and hope flow from one person to another.
This morning we will peer in the life of Barnabas. We will have to piece together the facts about his life by studying various parts of the book of Acts. Probably the key verse for the life of Barnabas might be Acts 11:24.
Let’s read that verse: For he was a good man, “Full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the church.”
This verse gives us the secret to the power and the influence of Barnabas. This verse also tells us what Barnabas was, why he was what he was, and how he became what he was.
Outside of a biblical context it might be difficult to tell what is meant by being a “good man.” Good in relations to whom and what? Barnabas was not naturally good. Rather, he was good on the inside because of something that had happened to him. He was good because he was godly. Goodness, in the biblical sense, means godly or righteous. Not good because of never having sinned, but good because of being infused with the righteousness of God in Christ.
THE GOODNESS OF BARNABAS MANIFESTED ITSELF IN SEVERAL WAYS
First, he was generous—Acts 4:36-37 Barnabas apparently had a piece of property which he sold, the proceeds of which he gave to the apostles for the benefit of the ministry of the church in Jerusalem. He opened his hands and released what was his for the benefit of others—the hallmark of a generous person. Wherever generosity abounds, encouragement abounds. Barnabas was an encourager and was also a generous man.
Second, he was gracious—Acts 9:26-28 To be gracious means to extend grace toward others. Barnabas was the most gracious of anyone toward the Apostle Paul when he was first introduced into the circle of apostles in the church in Jerusalem. He was the only one who reached out to Paul and welcomed him to the church. He came alongside Paul and brought him in to meet the others. You, like me, can probably recall several people who came alongside and offered a word of encouragement when we desperately needed it. We never know what the impact our extension of grace to another person will have.
Third, he was godly—Acts 11:19-28 Whenever Barnabas appears in Scripture, he is always doing the same things: encouraging the saints. His impact in Antioch was so great that the church continued to grow and develop. A godly person will always himself/herself subservient to the goal of bringing glory to God, which is what Barnabas did.
THE DIFFERENCE BARNABAS MADE.
The fact that Barnabas was good, generous, gracious, and godly was not because of his upbringing or his education or his heritage. It was because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit Who indwelt Barnabas is the same holy Spirit Who is given to every believer in Jesus Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again, and we remain filled as we confess our sins and yield to His leading in our lives. God wants every believer to be filled with the Encourager so that we might become encouragers as Barnabas was. The same glory brought to God through Barnabas can be brought to Him through our lives.
I do not know of anything we need more in the body of Christ today than encouragers—a whole host of Barnabases to be raised up to build up the body of Christ the church. We live in a very discouraging world. It is a wounded world, cursed by sin. We fight an uphill battle everyday to do what would please the Lord, and we all need encouragement. God did intend for us to struggle through this world alone. He has given us each other in order that we might build up and encourage each other. Who can we encourage today? This week?