ACTS 4:37
Barnabas: Giving
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Acts 4:37   (Barnabas), having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid
it at the apostles’ feet.

With regard to expanding Christ’s kingdom, Barnabas exemplified not only pray­ing ­(AC 13:1-2), but also giving.  The two go together.  The more we pray about mis­sions, the softer our hearts become and the more we give.  For missions to succeed, someone must pray.  Prayer has to come first, but money must quick­ly fol­low.  Finances are necessary.  Generous spending must undergird the sending.
Since our missions and ministry revival began at Second about five years ago, I have adopted as new role models two heroes, the greatest missions pastors in the history of the English speaking peoples:  Andrew Fuller, William Carey’s friend, and Oswald J. Smith, long-time pastor of The Peoples Church in Toronto.  This ­message is drawn from the life and writings of these two missions giants.
William Carey, founder of the modern missions movement, could not have succeeded alone.  His main supporter and helper for the first 22 years of his mis­sionary career in India was his dear friend, Pastor Andrew Fuller, whose mem­oirs re­call the beginning, when delicate negotiations were under way to deter­mine how Carey should be sent and supported. “Our undertaking to India, on its com­mencement, appeared to be somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine, which had never before been explored.  While we were deliberating, Carey said, “I will go down if you will hold the rope.”  Be­fore Carey went, he took an oath from each of us at the mouth of the pit to this ef­fect, that while we lived we should never let go the rope.  Un­derstand me.  There was great responsibility attached to us who began the business.”

Financial underpinning for missions is essential, and blessed by God.  If a child fell into a well and was rescued, any re­ward given would have to be divided equally between the one who went down into the well and the one who stayed on top to hold the rope.  This year, some of us will not go down into the missions well to rescue people directly, but we all should enable others to go.  Give your money.
While Carey spent the rest of his life in India, Fuller devoted the remainder of his days to leading the Missionary Society.  He earned a living as a Pastor, and volunteered his time totally free of charge to repeated­ly trav­­ersing England, Ire­land, Scot­land, and Wales to rally Baptists for missions support.  Fuller wrote let­ters to mis­sionaries, made sure ample support was raised, appealed to members of the cab­inet and parliament for legal passage and missionary protection­.  He­ bore the brunt of anti-missions venom.  The East India Company did not want mis­sion­aries in their territories.  They wanted to repress and exploit natives, not win them to Jesus.  Fuller stood steady as a rock, absorbing abuse, and shielding others.
There were rewards, too.  A year after the missions effort began, he wrote about its benefits, “Surely I never felt more genu­ine love to God and to his cause in my life.  I bless God that this work has been a means of reviving my soul.  If nothing else comes of it, I and many more have obtained a spiritual advantage.”
Fuller was haunted by the voice of Carey and other missionaries calling up from the bottom of the mine, “Help us.  Hold the rope.  Help us.”  Shouldering the load at home, Fuller pushed too hard too long.  His body showed the wear and tear of his efforts.  Light paralytic strokes incapacitated him at times, and left in their wake weeks of headaches.  Carrying the weight of the world, Fuller kept pushing himself.  His church hired an associate to help with local labors.  Friends kind­ly said, “You have no time to see us, you’ll soon be worn out.”  His wife one night said, “Dear, you have hardly time to speak to me.”  He would try to do bet­ter, but requests kept stacking up on his desk, “Come to Scotland, come to Ports­mouth, come to Plymouth, come to Bristol.”  Through the piles of mail, the voices would echo again from the bottom of the mine, “Help.  Hold.”  He had taken an oath, had pledged his assistance for life, he had to go raise support for Carey and the others.
Fuller’s fund-raising approach was novel.  He traveled from place to place to “tell the mission tale” and left results with the listener.  He asked people to give their hearts to the cause.  He made it very clear, he wanted gifts only from peo­ple whose motives were right.  He asked that not even a penny be given until the heart was also given.  He cared for the hearts of the lost, and for the hearts of his coun­try­men.  Money given from wrong motives availed nothing before God, he said.
A wealthy man once handed him a gift for missions.  Fuller sensed the man was nonchalant about it and asked, “Does this come from the heart?”  The nobleman gruffly replied, “What does that matter?  Suppose it does not come from the heart, it will answer your purpose as well.  If you get the money, why should you care whether it comes from the heart or not?”  Fuller countered, “Take it back.  I cannot take it.  My Lord and Master requires the heart.”  The rich man was flust­ered and frustrated, but after taking a moment to regroup, gave Fuller a much lar­ger donation, saying, “This comes from the heart.  I love the Lord Jesus and his cause, and know no offering is acceptable to him unless it comes from the heart.”
Fuller was not always successful.  His tender heart was often bro­ken.  Tears flowed, bearing painful witness to a sad coldness of heart he saw in church people.
After 20 years in the missions enterprise, Fuller’s health finally collapsed.  He had a pulmonary attack from which he never fully recovered.  Sensing the dam­age, he wrote, “If I should die, I shall be able to say to the rising generation, “God will surely visit you.”  A work is begun that will not end till the world be sub­­dued to the Savior.”  At this critical moment, when his body was already about to be offered, news came that a disastrous fire had destroyed Carey’s publishing house in India.  It became Fuller’s last great cause.  Having taken an oath to help as long as he lived, Fuller mustered his last ounces of strength to the task.  The mon­­ey was raised, the print shop rebuilt.  Andrew Fuller could now go to Heaven in peace.  On Sunday morning, May 7, 1815, sick and weak in his house which ad­joined his church, Fuller woke when he heard his people singing.  He said to fami­ly, “I wish I had strength enough to worship.  Come and help me.”  They propped him up in bed and for thirty minutes he silently enjoyed the songs of his flock, and then went on to sing his own song in Heaven.  I guess if Fuller could stand beside me today, he would preach once again that our monetary gifts are not the ultimate issue.  The money in the plate is valid only if the heart goes into the plate with it.
When Oswald Smith was a young preacher, his life was forever altered by a little girl he served as pastor.  Grace was in love with India.  One day her mother tried to buy her a new coat, since the one she had was six years old and threadbare.  But Grace begged her mother to give her the money instead, saying she could wear the old coat one more winter.  Her mother consented, and Grace gave the money to India.  While Oswald Smith was still her pastor, Grace died.  On her death-bed she made her mother promise to sell all her clothes, and send whatever she received to In­dia.  The mother kept her promise, and it was done.  Oswald Smith, when old, said he wanted to be standing somewhere near the throne when Grace re­ceives her reward.  He said her heart was in India and her money followed her heart.
Where is our heart?  Our missions offering will reveal a lot to us about the state of our heart.  Some say they don’t believe in pledges because they don’t want their left hand to know what their right hand is doing.  I fear we often say this be­cause we give so little our right hand would be ashamed to let our left hand know.
Money is never an end in itself, but always a means to an end, the end be­ing either ourselves or God’s work.  We need to do self-inventory, reposition our hearts and line up more of our finances with God’s program for world evangel­ism.
What end do you have in view for your money?  This is a serious issue for believers, because our question can never be, “How much of my money will I give to God?” but always instead, “How much of God’s money will I keep for myself?”
I pray we’ll from the heart be able to say with Oswald Smith, “I have seen the vision, and for self I cannot live.  Life is less than worthless till my all I give.”