February 06, 2022
• Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross
It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Studies have been done on this and people are able to draw a correlation between this decision and your level of satisfaction, level of success, and even span of life. It even effects the quality of our faith journey. Now there are a variety of decisions we don’t get to make. We don’t get to decide where we born. We don’t get to decide how we were raised. We don’t get to decide family medical history. We don’t get to decide our family. But we do get to decide our important relationships.
One of the most important decisions that we make are the people with whom we choose to be in relationship. Your relationships play a critical role. Who we are is largely determined by the company that we keep? In fact, the Bible puts it like this. “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Translation - You don’t have be a fool to suffer harm, you just have to hang with them!
This is not dictated by personality. We are people created and wired for connection. It’s who we are. From the very first words in the Bible, we learn that it’s not good for man/woman to be alone. We are created in the image of God that is by nature communal. It is who we are. Its why we join clubs and teams. Its why join churches and get involved in groups. It’s why we join fraternities and sororities. We join book clubs and bridge groups. People will go to great lengths even in unhealthy ways to fill this need for connection. It’s starts when we are young looking for people at the sand box and the need for connection and community and relationship does not diminish with age. We become more selective, but the need does not crease. We are intrinsically wired for relationships. This has nothing to do with being introverted or extroverted. Your life will be greatly influenced by the quality (or lack thereof) of your significant relationships. Think about the significant moments in your life and many of them have some relational aspect.
So, for The next four weeks we are going to look at the relationships that are insensible. These are people that you cannot do without. This series is based off the book It’s really based off a book, not really called 11 indispensable relationships. We only have 4 weeks, but we will have a mid-week message on social media that picks up another relationship that feel is indispensable.
One of the first indispensable relationships is a Barnabas. “Encourager.” This is how the author describes it. A Barnabas is an “encourager,” someone in your life who is constantly saying, “Atta boy!” or, “Atta girl!” When you have had more than your fair share of jabs to the ribs and stabs in the back, who puts his or her arms on your shoulders and whispers, “Don’t let them get to you. I believe in you”? That’s your Barnabas. You need affirmation, attention, and encouragement as much as you need food, shelter, and rest.
Definition – “The Expression of affirmation through language of symbolic representation to instill courage, perseverance, confidence, inspiration, or hope in a person within the context of addressing a challenging situation or realizing a protentional. (slide)
Who or what encourages you (slide) Who is your encourager? Here’s why everyone that’s watching online and those in the room need to hear this...Everyone needs an encourager. Everyone needs a Barnabas because at some point you will face some kind of discouragement. (slide)
The text is really clear on the necessity of this relationship. It picks up at the start of Paul’s ministry and things are not going as planned. A few verses earlier Paul has this transformative experience with God, and he starts living out his call. One would think this would be cause for celebration. They have living proof of the transformative power of God. Paul is a living witness to what happens when God intervenes in someone’s life. How can you not celebrate when someone has turned their lives around? The bible shows us that when the prodigal son returns home, they throw a party with the finest wine. Paul is a perfect example of the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ. If there was anything that should have convinced this community that God still work miracles, it was the fact that man that used to kill them as been completely transformed. Well, that’s not the way this story starts out!
But people don’t take it so well. He’s not welcomed with open arms. Theirs a plot to kill his life. They have to sneak him out of cities it’s getting so bad. He’s trying to do right. He’s trying to turn over a new leaf. He’s preaching about the good of Jesus Christ and people are ready to take him out! Here’s why you need Barnabas.
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A SOMETHING YOUR LIFE THAT WILL DISCOURAGE YOU FROM WHO YOU’RE TRYING TO BECOME, WHERE YOU ARE TRYING TO GO, and The call you are trying to live. (Slide)Discouragement will always come.
1. What people say. Harsh unkind words that diminish your spirit. What people post on social media. What they say behind your backs.
2. System or unspoken expectation that prevents advancement. It’s the upspoken rules that encourages participation or your involvement. Its intentionally making something hard to dissuade someone or a group.
3. Unfavorable circumstance that you don’t want and didn’t plan. Rejection. Lay-off. Set back. Something happens that can radically prohibit movement in a particular direction.
In fact, I’ve found that what makes people quit is not their passion it’s that they are aren’t prepared to handle the discouragement that comes along with the journey. You will “always” experience discouragement. There will always be something in your life that will discourage you from moving forward. Always. If it’s good, discouragement will come.
Here’s the truth, you will face more discouragement when you are trying to do the right thing more so when you are not. There will never be a shortage of people that will discourage you. The call comes with discouragement. The idea comes with discouragement. Growth comes with discouragement.
Paul was just trying to remind people about the love of Jesus Christ, and he faced discouragement. Jesus himself was trying to help people have a closer relationship with God and he was killed and crucified. King was assassinated for the very message that he’s now revered. What is celebrated now as actually radical just decades ago. Think about his, He had a vision that everyone should be treated equal, and he was killed at the age of 33.
So, in case you were wondering. Everybody faces moments in their lives when they get discouraged. They get down. We question if they made the right decision. We second guess themselves. We lose confidence. Discouragement doesn’t discriminate. We Doubt our abilities. Wonder if you are the right person for the job. Anxious about the next step. People go through all kinds of things....
Think of Encouragement as a “reinforcement.” Its affirming and reaffirming what God has already placed inside of us. Your Barnabas is the reinforcement to the experiences of discouragement. Think of it like this. When I go outside to shovel, I make sure I have reinforcements for the cold. I’m from Detroit, but I still don’t like the cold. I make sure there is something covering my head. Im diligent about wearing my scar. Wearing a coat is a must. And depending on the wind, Im not ashamed to wear layers. Sweater. Long sleeve Undershirt. Pants. Boots. Socks. Gloves. What I am trying t do. (I know it sounds extreme, but I told you I don’t like the cold. I’m trying to do two things. I’m trying to keep the cold out. And keep the heat in. Im trying to protect myself from the cold, but hold on to what’s already inside.
That’s the power of having a Barnabas. It’s a relationship reinforcement. Someone who reinforces what you already know to be true. Someone that helps you hold what’s already on the inside. Someone that helps you hold on to your confidence. Someone to remind you of your calling. Someone to say don’t give up now. Someone to remind you block out the naysayers and remind you who called in the first place.
Believes in you
“When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.” Notice that key word “Believe.” They did not “believe”. He’s been called by God, but not everyone believes it’s. I don’t blame them. Would you believe him? Has Paul really changed much? Is this just another way to infiltrate their faith to arrest them again. Here’s why you need a Barnabas, you will never get 100 percent “belief” rate. Everyone won’t always believe in you at the same level. Paul was already growing in popularity among the Gentiles, but not with everyone.
Here’s the critical question, WHY DOES Barnabas believe in Paul when no one else does!? Because it’s not as though they have a lot of history. It’s not as though Barnabas has some special knowledge that other people don’t. we have no indication that Barnabas received some special revelation about God reading Paul. So Why does he believe when no one else does?
Here's the answer: It was just who he was. Barnabas had a gift at seeing the best in people. That’s what you need. Barnabas just doesn’t say it, because a Barnabas believe it and believes in you. (slide) But you need someone that encourages you and believes in you and sees the best in you in.
In fact, Barnabas wasn’t even his real name. His real name was Joseph. He was a highly respected person in the Jewish community. Some believe he was well educated. But it became his calling card. It was what people started calling him based on his character. You don’t find any other person in the Biblical narrative who was given this nickname per se. He was know of it.
Acts 4: 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. Just who he was.
Everybody can’t be your Barnabas! Some people aren’t Barnabas. You can expect a Barnabas response if it’s not in them. They don’t have that gift. They might might love you but they can’t play the role. They’ve known you for years but they can’t do it. They’ve know all your secrets, but they don’t have Barnabas heart. Everybody cant play every role. They don’t have a Barnabas spirit. They might have other significant roles. Barnabas looks at the this man that was just putting people in the prison. And he makes a decision to stay with him so he can move freely around Jerusalem. You cant teach that that.
There was a guy in Atlantic by the names of Collin Days . He had the largest church in Atlantic City. He and I ended up becoming really good friends. Second Baptist was the it church in town. He had a habit of befriending every new pastor in the city. If you were new to the city, he would invite you to come preach so that people could learn who you are.
Well after being their a few months we decided to host a Freedom School. But we only a short time to raise the money and we didn’t have access to large amounts of money. So I was telling Rev Days about Freedom School and he loved the program and wanted to know if I had time to go down to city hall to see if we could help raise the money. So we go from office to office.
He was introducing me to this person and that person. I tell them about the program and just about every person sounds a little iffy until Rev Days reminded them how much money they had in their budget and challenged them their office to make a firm commitment to a new program that would invest in the lives of the next generation. We left city hall with a good amount of money raised, not because of who I was but because of who believed in me. I know him well enough to know now its just who he is. But when certain people believe in you, it helps you to believe in yourself. Barb as helps bridge the gap of unbelief.
Private affirmations are empty without public commitments. (slide)
Look at this scenario again. Paul was known in the Jewish community for murdering Christians. He’s a great example of what happens when religion goes wrong. So you can imagine the amount of enemies he’s made at this point. Hed pull people out of their homes, pull them out of their synagogues and have them arrested! But because God had a different plan for his life, God called him to a preach and plant churches. What we are trying to do with our online campus and broad ripple is God’s ways of sharing the gospel! Paul’s so eager, he doesn’t really give it time to blow over.
He gets converted, starts preaching and goes right back out into the synagogues preaching. Reminder, just because you’ve moved doesn’t mean other people have. Our conversion doesn’t heal old wounds! No one trusts him! People are afraid of him. His past has caught up to him. He’s called but he still needs help! Then enters Barnabas, he comes along side Paul and vouches for him! Now Paul is able to move about freely, not because he’s convinced them. Not because he’s won them over. Not because they think he’s so gifted. They were plotting to kill him, but someone that they deeply respected vouched for him.
You see there is encouragement takes on a different form. It’s more than just words of affirmation. That’s not going to help Paul right. You can do it Paul! Hey you got this! You the man Paul! That. Not. What. He. Needs. Private affirmations are empty without public commitments. For some, words don’t cost much. Real encouragement is when it costs something.
The impact goes much further than what happens to Paul. Watch the impact of having Barnabas. Because his encouragement takes this public commitment, it not only has the impact of encouraging Paul, but also encouraging the people that are doubting
I came across a post on social media the other day of young woman going through a very difficult journey that most woman her age don’t experience. But Im amazed at her courage and vulnerability of sharing her journey with so many. But I’ve watched people all around the country encourage in a variety of ways. I wanted to share a quote why we need a Barnabas in our lives.
“Losing your breasts to breasts cancer is nothing to smile at….unless you have the most ridiculously amazing support system in the world”
Everyone needs a Barnabas.
1. Discouragement will come
2. You’ll someone body that believes in you and sees the best in you.
3. And not someone that just say it with words, but their commitment becomes public.
You never know whose watching, reading, or scrolling.