Good Ol’ Barnabas
The second of an occasional series
“And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Acts 4:36-37 (NKJV)
Barnabas was a Levite from the island of Cyprus. No doubt he had some kind of ministry there to his fellow Jews of the time. I suspect he was much loved by those he served. But typical of those who could afford it, he had his wealth tied up in real estate. Since he appears to have sold it quickly, it might have been that he owned land in Judah.
I imagine him, seeing the plight of so many new converts who had run out of money following their Pentecost conversion, being moved by compassion to sell, sell, sell. You see, most Jews who made the pilgrimage to Israel from foreign lands did so only once or twice in a lifetime. Most came at Passover time, the high feast of the year, or in the autumn. Some might have stayed on for the seven weeks ‘til Pentecost, but many who couldn’t afford to come for Passover or the autumn feasts when, no doubt, hotel and food prices rocketed in Jerusalem, came instead at Pentecost. Just for a long weekend. It was all they could afford.
And now they had stayed longer than they expected. Why did Barnabas (and others) act? Because they were enthusiastic about the new faith and wanted to encourage others, new to the faith, to stick with it—even though money worries were intruding.
Encouragement may be a duty of Christians (1 Thessalonians 5:11), but this was not done out of duty. Barnabas acted out of compassion and enthusiasm. He wanted to encourage others to stick with the faith. And he was willing to sacrifice his all in order to do that.
Regrettably, even among Christians, such motivation is quite rare. History is littered with similar figures, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, George Muller, Dr Barnardo, who are often noted just because they are so rare, but also because of what was achieved. All Christians, however, have opportunity to encourage. In little ways, to the individual; not because it is a duty, but because, like Barnabas, they want to.
Most merciful Father, thank you for people like good ol’ Barnabas. Thank you for showing us that helping people needs to come from the heart, not the head. Help is no duty when we think of the help you constantly give us; it becomes a response, a privilege. Thank you, in Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by John Stettaford