Barnabas was his nickname. His real name was Joseph and he was one of the apostle Paul’s closest friends. But what first put Barnabas on the pages of Scripture was not his missionary journeys with Paul, but his generosity.
By Acts chapter four the early church had grown to around 10,000 people and the explosive growth brought with it significant needs. So Barnabas stepped up in a big way:
Thus, Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.Acts 4:36-37
Barnabas sold a field and gave it all to his church leaders. Just the thought of it makes us uncomfortable. We don’t do this. We give after all our needs are met. We give if there’s some left over. We give if it fits our lifestyle. But not Barnabas.
Barnabas gave away his nest egg. He said goodbye to his security. This field was probably his savings account or his inheritance, but now a “Sold” sign hung on it.
What makes a person do this? Why did this seem worth it to him? To do this, Barnabas must have believed five things more strongly than we do.
5 Beliefs of Barnabas
1. God owns it all. Barnabas must have been convinced that it was God’s field, not his. God can call us to use his field to plant crops and make a profit. Or God can call us to sell his field and give the money away. Barnabas knew it wasn’t his, but God’s.
2. Jesus gave it all. Barnabas knew the story of the cross. He may have witnessed the dying savior, the Son of God, keep giving until his very last breath. Jesus’ generosity was neither comfortable nor safe. He laid down his life. Barnabas knew this, so how could he not also lay down his life for those in need?
3. God will provide. Barnabas believed that the God of heaven cared for him more than many sparrows and promised to meet his needs. He knew his calling was to seek first God’s kingdom and trust God to provide for all his needs.
4. Heaven is our home. Barnabas knew that he was a pilgrim passing through. He knew that owning land was only temporary. By faith he looked ahead to a true and better country and found his grip loosen on the treasures of this world.
5. Jesus promises eternal rewards. Barnabas believed that true rewards don’t come now, but later. Where the rich young ruler missed his opportunity to lay up treasures in heaven because he was overly attached to his treasures on earth, Barnabas rose to the occasion because he was looking forward to his reward.
Men Like Barnabas
Do you believe what Barnabas believed? Many of us would say we do, but we don’t live like it. Out of the 10,000 people in the early church, many of them gave, but when they needed an example to point to, there was one name mentioned: Barnabas.
What if we could be like Barnabas? What if none of our assets were off limits to God? What might God do in our churches and in our generation?
There’s only one way to find out and that’s to give.