This sermon was based on Acts 4:32-37 and Acts 11:19-26.
They Had Everything in Common
32Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
The Church in Antioch
19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When 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, 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and 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.
Generous with Praise
- Sometimes when we think of the gifts of the Spirit we think of prophesy, healings, miracles. Then when we think of encouragement and serving we tend to put them more into Human, social virtues. Yet we see that encouragement is a gift of the Divine, when we encourage we are truly reflecting the creator of the Universe.
- Sometimes we find it hard to compliment people because some things they have said or done aren’t worth complimenting. We are scared of making some feel ok when really there are plenty of things that need changing in their lives or ministry. We need to get over this and be prepared to compliment everything that is worthy of it.
- Compliments and encouragement without some appropriate honest feedback eventually will appear, seem and actually be hollow.
Generous with Possessions
- In the light of Peter’s later statement to Ananias that his property was his own (5:4), we cannot press these words into meaning that the believers had literally renounced private, in favour of common, ownership.
- Perhaps the important phrase is that no-one felt his possessions as his own. Although in fact and in law they continued to own their goods, yet in heart and mind they cultivated an attitude so radical that they thought of their possessions as being available to help their needy sisters and brothers.They eradicated absolute poverty from the people of God in Jerusalem.
- Sometimes you can look generous but have the wrong attitude and motivation. There are churches and institutions where money can give you favour, a voice, influence and position.
Generous with Position
- Barnabus used his position to see Paul accepted by the church. It was he that introduced Saul to the disciples at Jerusalem, when they were scared of him.
- Barnabus used his position to further Paul’s ministry. It was he that went to look for Saul when he saw the opportunity for his great teaching gift to be used.
- So many people struggle to be generous with their position in the church, their work and other places they wield influence and position as their identity is so wrapped up their own position.
Barnabus used his position to establish Paul’s Team leadership. Having been sent out to start churches from Antioch. Quickly we see Barnabas handing over the senior leadership role to Paul.
Paul and Barnabus didn’t even use ther position to ensure they were rightfully paid. Barnabas’ generosity made him, with Paul, want to make sure that the people who became Christians and churches that were planted through their ministry could never accuse them of doing it for gain.