Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Though not named among the twelve apostles or the evangelists, Barnabas emerges in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the most significant of their number. He sold his estate and gave the proceeds to the Church, since all things were to be held in common, and clearly became a leader. He is described as a Levite from Cyprus so, like his friend Paul, was from the Greek world rather than that of Palestine, and he introduced Paul to the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem. He was sent to Antioch apparently to guide the Christians there in their relations with non-Jewish converts, promoting the concept of all being one in Christ. He broke with Paul to go to Cyprus and tradition has it that he was martyred there in the year 61 Exciting Holiness
Barnabas showed sacrificial devotion
Throughout Acts we see in Barnabas a man who was willing to suffer, leave home, risk his life for the gospel. But where did that all begin? The answer is that it starts right here in Acts 4.36-37, when he sold his field and laid the proceeds at the feet of the Apostles.
Some of us or indeed many of us as Christians have a desire to do great things for God some day, but are finding it difficult in our current situation at the moment. In the Bible we see that greatness grows. It has to do with the principle of sowing and reaping.
For Barnabas’ first act of devotion he chose to make it financial. He must have felt that his possessions where the barrier to his calling, and Jesus talked about money and possessions a lot for that reason. It can be a powerful distraction. Barnabas sorts this out early in his life and so sets a course for passionate devotion to Jesus.
It is especially interesting that Barnabas was a Levite. The Levites were not supposed to have property at all. While the other tribes had a portion of the Land, the Levites were spread out among the Israelites to bring godly influence to all the people.
To be truthful, I need to do a lot to declutter my life, and when I have had a good clear-out, I know that I feel spiritually cleansed and emotionally freed from clinging on to things that no longer have any relevance in my life. It gave me the ability to see the wood through the trees, so to speak.
Do you need to de clutter your life, do you need to see the wood through the trees to enable you to have that closer walk with God? Maybe that is our challenge while we are in our current situation. As Barnabas sells his property and then give the money to the apostles, maybe that is a sign for us, in enhancing God’s work for the needy, poor, lonely and lost. Amen.