Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the example you gave us in your Son Jesus. His legacy was marked by eternal values and self-sacrifice. I pray that you would strengthen my desire to leave a legacy that impacts eternal things. Help me to love as you love, and to serve as you serve.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
As we think about our lives as men, we cannot help but be drawn to the concept of the legacy that we are leaving behind. Our legacy is one thing that we cannot avoid in our lives, no matter how much we try to. Our legacy is born when we are born, and we continue adding to it as we live our lives. Unlike our physical bodies, however, our legacy will not expire when we draw our last breath. Our legacy will live on beyond our mortal bodies. So the question must be asked: what is the legacy you will leave behind?
For the next five weeks, we are going to look specifically at a person in Scripture who embodies much of what the Christian man is meant to be like. That man is Barnabas. While Barnabas was not perfect, his legacy is one that is characterized by encouragement, generosity, and obedience to the call of God on his life. As we study the legacy of Barnabas, I want to encourage each of you to apply the lessons that we can learn from him, both good and bad, to your own lives.
We find the first mention of Barnabas in the Bible in Acts 4:36-37. This passage says: “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”
There is much we can glean from this relatively short passage about Barnabas. First, we are told that Joseph (Barnabas’ real name) was a Levite, meaning that he was a Jew from the tribe of Levi. The fact that he came from Cyprus will be something that we will touch on during a later talk. The two things I want to focus on tonight are the name given to Barnabas, and the first action we see him taking in Scripture.
First, we are given a great description of Barnabas’ character based on the fact that other believers have given him the nickname “Son of Encouragement.” Names, as they were in biblical times, are very important. Nicknames, in our culture, can give us a glance into some of the defining aspects of a person. Think of the nicknames given to some NBA players: Kobe is “The Black Mamba,” there was a player who used to play in Cleveland known as “King” (boo!), before his retirement, Shaquille O’Neal was “Diesel.” Tonight, I will show you why they call me “The One Man Scoring Machine.” Guys, these are fun, temporal names that will fade once their NBA star burns out. What would others name our legacy? What if we could be defined by things that are lasting? Barnabas will forever be defined by his ability and desire to encourage others. Can that be said of us?
The second thing I want us to focus on is the fact that Barnabas gave generously out of his own resources because he recognized the need. This is a type of generosity that expects nothing in return, and gives wholly based on compassion. Guys, in a society that thrives on self-gratification, we are called to be different. We are called to be generous out of a genuine love for God and for his people. What we do tonight will be fun and good, but has little relevance in the bigger picture of the legacy that we leave behind.
Tonight, I want to challenge all of us to examine where we are in our lives. Are we being defined by how we encourage others and how generous we are, or do others see us as selfish and self-absorbed? I challenge you to think about the legacy you are currently building, and what the implications of that will be when you are gone.