Change the World – Barnabas

It’s one thing to study about how to live for God, but there’s something that captures us so much more when we see someone who actually lives it out. It’s good to study theology, but it’s better to live out your theology.

Hebrews 13:7Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

Throughout this series, we are looking at how to be a world changer, so we’re going to look at people who changed the world, and we’re going to see what made them tick, what made them unique, what made them successful in what they did…and we’re looking at people that most of the time are overlooked in the Bible. We’re going to be looking at the unsung heroes of the Bible and how without them, the world would not have changed. And as we do this, we will see that we too can be world changers, because God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things, for His glory.

Tonight, we are looking at one of my favorite people in the Bible. We’re looking at Barnabas and what made him a world changer.

1. He had godly character.

Barnabas was an encourager.

Acts 4:36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus…

Imagine how much of an encouragement he must have been to be named Son of Encouragement.

* anecdote about nicknames *

Barnabas was generous.

Acts 4:37…sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

This is pure generosity…no strings attached…expecting nothing in return. We know this because of what happens right after. You see Ananias and Sapphira give while lying and pocketing some of the money and God strikes them dead. It deepens our appreciation for the character of Barnabas, seeing that. Our generosity often is not like Barnabas. We give with expectation of reward. We should give freely.

Barnabas was willing and eager to extend grace.

We see him extend grace towards Paul. He was the only one willing to receive Paul after his conversion and was the one who persuaded the apostles.

Acts 9:26-2826 And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But 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 had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

We see him extend grace towards Mark, who was the cause of Paul and Barnabas ending their partnership.

Acts 15:36-4036 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

But look at Mark and Paul later…after Barnabas, and I think because Barnabas had spent time helping mentor Mark as he helped mentor Paul. Paul writes this to Timothy years after the what we just read.

2 Tim 4:11Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.

When you realize the extent to which you’ve been forgiven, then the extent to which you forgive expands. When you experience true immeasurable grace, you must be willing to extend grace. We see this with Barnabas, and we can and should embody this as well.

Barnabas cared about people.

Acts 11:22-2422 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

He was glad at a young church’s progress. He cared about Saul when nobody else would. He cared about Mark when Paul didn’t. It says he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. Wouldn’t you want that said about you?

Barnabas was humble. He was content with being in the background. He was always pushing other people to their full potential and rejoicing over their victories.

(His character was backed with action.)

2. He was willing to go wherever God called him.

He sold a field. (Acts 4:37)

He went to Saul when nobody else would give him a chance. (Acts 9:27)

He went to the church in Antioch when the church in Jerusalem asked him to. (Acts 11:22)

Paul and Barnabas were set apart, and they followed the call.

Acts 13:1-41 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

If you’re only willing to go where you want or where you’re comfortable, you’re not going to go very far. Barnabas was willing to bank everything on the promise in the Great Commission…”I will be with you always.” He knew that as he went, He was going in and with the power of the resurrected Savior. So, he would go wherever it was that he was sent.

3. He expected no glory or acknowledgement.

He sold a field. That’s all it says. Simply. (Acts 4:37)

He brought Paul to Antioch. When he went and saw all the good that was happening at that church in Antioch, you know what he did? He sent for Paul to come to Antioch. He didn’t seek glory and power for himself, but he wanted to see the kingdom expand. There are many pastors and Christians who seek power and authority over kingdom effectiveness. If you have to keep reminding someone that you are in charge, you aren’t of the mindset of Barnabas…neither will you have the results.

Acts 11:25-2625 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

He was content to serve behind Paul. He was most interested in God receiving glory, so there was no room for his own glory. I would bet that Paul has the example of Barnabas in mind when he says the words in Romans 12:3-6:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

The world has been changed by Barnabas. But, you hardly ever hear his name. As far as we know, he didn’t write any of the New Testament. But, the men he nurtured wrote a third of it. Paul wrote 13 of the epistles. Mark wrote 1 of the 4 gospels.

Now, put yourself in his shoes…how can you change the world? How can you give glory to God by not seeking the glory for yourself?


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