I met a man named Richard in a Wal-Mart parking lot. He told me to call him Rich, so to respect his wishes we’ll call him Rich, ’cause that’s what his friends call him. So he said.
Rich and I’s story began by him asking me for some money to buy food. I told him I’d do him one better, and walk into Wal-Mart and buy him a sandwich. He agreed, and I helped Lauren finish loading up our car. Rich asked me what type of car that was, and I told him it’s a Scion. Then Rich made a comment about how small it was, and how he hoped it was much roomier on the inside than it looked on the outside. I almost told him he could forget about his sandwich.
As Rich and I were walking into Wal-Mart to get him a sandwich, he told me that he just had stomach surgery. I was about to ask him more about that, when a car almost hit us in the parking lot. That incident reminded Rich of his sister in Michigan, who was hit by a car and had to have reconstructive surgery to her face.
We continued towards Wal-Mart, and I asked Rich if he wanted a Big Mac. He said yes, and told me about how the job he worked at let him go, and wouldn’t give him his job back. By the time Rich had finished his story, the Big-Mac had been ordered and we were waiting on it. So, we got back to the stomach surgery story. Rich had been to Shands, to have part of his colon removed because he has cancer.
There’s a man named Joseph in the New Testament. No, not that Joseph. This Joseph has friends that call him Barnabas, just like Richard’s friends call him Rich. You’ll find Barnabas’ story in the book of Acts.
Oh, did I mention that Barnabas means Son of Encouragement?
I didn’t tell the story of Rich and I to boast, or tell you to look at what I did. I told you the story about Rich and I to show you how you can live out, Be Barnabas. You see Rich was/is a talker, someone that you could probably have a conversation with for hours. But, Rich also isn’t in the same situation you and I are in. Rich doesn’t own a computer, or have a phone that’s smart enough to get on the internet. Rich is homeless, but he values a conversation. It encourages him.
In Acts 4:37, you read the first impression that Barnabas gives.
sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Barnabas’ first impression to me, is that he lives out what I call the poverty Gospel. The poverty Gospel is giving because you have. Unlike it’s counterpart the prosperity Gospel, which tells you to give so can have. Everything above nothing is a gift from God. That is something Barnabas understood, and I believe he daily died to his selfish desires so that he could show and give others the grace that he had received.
So my challenge to you, and to me, is to be Barnabas and live out the poverty gospel. Let’s show encouragement without expectations, and give because we have.
How can we be Barnabas?