Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36–37)

ONE OF THE REASONS we like Barnabas is because he was such an encourager. He came alongside the apostle Paul, for instance, and mentored him. Another reason we like Barnabas is because of his generosity. He sold a field he owned and gave the money to the apostles to help those who might have some need. He had a great heart.

He stands out partially because his actions are a contrast to those of Ananias and Sapphira, who also sold some property. But when they brought the proceeds to the apostles, they claimed their gift represented the total sale price, but it did not. They lied. No one said they had to give the whole amount. Their sin was not in the amount; it was in the lie.

People give for various reasons. Some give out of a spirit of love and true generosity. They love God, they love the church, and they want to help. Others give in order to be seen. Maybe Ananias and Sapphira had the right motive in the beginning, but somehow greed crept in and they lied in order to appear generous.

Many of us have mixed motives. Why do I write devotionals? To encourage others or to get my name in the devotional book? I hope it’s the former.

Love for God and others should foster generosity. In the case of Barnabas, it did.

Ask God to examine your motives. Then out of a heart of love, be generous.

Ron McClung works at his denomination’s world headquarters and lives in Fishers, Indiana, with his wife, Carol. They have two sons and nine grandchildren.