Did you catch the “offering meditation” this past Sunday in our 10am worship service. Our elder, Susan Bursa, shared a wonderful story about Barnabas, also known as the “Son of Encouragement.” Barnabas appears several times in the New Testament, and in virtually every story, he is committing his resources and possessions to helping spread the “good news” of Jesus to people all over the Holy Land. Here is one story, from the Book of Acts, that talks about his personal detachment from worldly possessions and his willingness to use what God has blessed him with for God’s purposes, and for supporting the work of the disciples. Acts 4:32-37—The Believers Share Their Possessions 32 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. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 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. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). 37 He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. This is just one example of how the early followers of Jesus were able to overcome their need to possess things for themselves and instead to “hold everything in common.” On Sunday, Susan urged us to become more like this, more like Barnabas, in our own lives. Today, I issue a challenge to each one of us – starting with me! Let’s take an honest look at the things in our life that we have become so attached to that we keep accumulating them without regard for true need. For me, I’m going to start with clothes and attire. I have WAY more clothes than I need … but somehow I don’t seem to have as much as I want! I have begun to “idolize” my wardrobe in a way that distorts my perception of what I really need, and thus drives me to keep buying things when I really don’t need them. So I’m going to make a “Barnabas Plan” and implement a new practice of acquiring clothes. It’s not a “draconian” plan where I stop buying anything new. Rather, it’s a practical and realistic plan that helps me recognize the proper role of clothes in my life and keeps me from going overboard with accumulating new things. Here is my 3-step “Barnabas Plan” for buying new clothes:

  1. ADD/SUBTRACT – For every new clothes item that I add (including underwear, shoes & socks, coats and jackets), I will subtract something of equivalent use from my wardrobe. For everything that lands in my in-box – I will put something in the out-box. I can donate some of the outbox things, take them to a thrift store, or simply pitch them. But I will not “grow” my wardrobe from where it is today.
  2. NO NEW HANGERS OR DRAWERS – From this point forward, I will not buy any new hangers or add any new drawers or shelves to accommodate more clothes. I must make do with the capacity I currently have to hang and store my clothes.
  3. REDEFINE “DESIRE” AND “NEED” – I have reached a point in my consumeristic mind that enables me to change the meaning of “desire” to “need.” In fact, when I see some article of clothing that I really like – I discover that almost immediately, I need it! I gotta have it! In fact, now that I’ve seen it, I don’t think I can live without it! Can you relate? That my friends, is called IDOL WORSHIP! The truth is, that the only thing I gotta have, and the only thing I can’t live without, is my relationship with Jesus. When I substitute clothes ( or anything else) for Jesus, then I am worshiping a false god.

I’ll be curious to know what you think of my new “Barnabas Plan.” Perhaps there is an area in your life that you’ve started to “worship” in ways that replace “desire” with “need.” I wonder what your “Barnabas Plan” might look like for you. Please let me know if you’re ready to try this. And I will keep you updated on how my plan is proceeding. A son of the “Son of Encouragement” – Pastor Bob