Fifty days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples were already leading a mega-church in Jerusalem. They saw three thousand people repent and believe in a single day and not long after the church grew to ten thousand.
Jesus was working powerfully through his church, but the needs of such a booming movement were great. It was at this critical time that one man’s generosity stood out from all the rest.
He Gave His Treasure
We don’t know his profession, but his priorities were clear. To support the needs of the apostle's ministry, Barnabas, "sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:36-37
Perhaps he was influenced by the story of the rich young ruler who was unwilling to sell his possessions to follow Jesus. Or maybe he heard James and John tell of leaving their fishing nets and their father’s boat. However it was that God led Barnabas to give his treasure, this act of generosity was where his story began, but not where it would end.
He Gave His Trust
A little while later the church was afraid. Their main persecutor, a man named Saul, was now claiming to be a follower of Jesus. News in Jerusalem must have been swirling: “Could Saul truly be one of us?” “This sounds like a setup." "Remember Stephen?” “If we make the wrong move, we could be dead."
"It was another turning point moment for the church and Barnabas stepped right into the middle of it."
It was another turning point moment for the church and Barnabas stepped right into the middle of it. Scripture says, “Barnabas took him [Saul] 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.” Acts 9:27
Barnabas took a big risk on Saul and gave him his trust. As a result, this second act of generosity opened the door for the early church’s most powerful preacher and missionary.
He Gave His Time
When news came in that the gospel was beginning to reach Gentiles, Barnabas was the first responder. He who had been faithful twice before was now sent by the church to check on this new movement.
Barnabas recognized this strategic opportunity when he saw how many people had come to know the Lord, so he went recruiting. “Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 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.” Acts 11:25-26
Barnabas gave his time, a year of his life, in fact, to serve the church at Antioch. He and Saul, now known as Paul, became partners in this work and they were just getting started.
He Gave His Life
On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas witnessed a whole city gather to hear the word of the Lord. They got to be a part of God’s word spreading throughout an entire region.
Barnabas saw the miraculous healing of a crippled man at Lystra, who had been unable to use his feet since birth, but sprang up and began walking at Paul’s command. Barnabas heard the crowds call him Zeus and Paul, Hermes, crying out, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Acts 14:11
He was also in the middle of the persecution when the Jews chased them from city to city. Barnabas even escaped a violent attack on his own life and was there when the Jews “stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” Acts 14:19
Barnabas was a man of action who gave his life to the adventure and the danger of telling the world about Jesus.
He Gave His Heart
We don’t know how his story ends. The last we’re told of Barnabas he’s sailing off into the sunset on yet another missionary journey, this time to his home island of Cyprus.
He could have chosen a life of comfort and security, quietly working his land. But when Barnabas gave his field for the advance of the gospel, he gave his heart as well.