There is always outward evidence when God works in the hearts of believers and Acts 4:32-37 is a good example. The Holy Spirit began to bring the early believers together as a corporate body. The Jerusalem believers had a very mature view of material possessions: what they possessed was not their own-it belonged to God. The people of the Jerusalem church lived with open hands. From their open hands, other could take what they needed, and into their open hands, God could put more resources to share. Believers realize that all they have belongs to God. When a Christian brother or sister has a need those who can meet it have a moral obligation to do so.
A closed hand misses two blessings in life: it can neither enjoy the blessing of giving to others nor receive blessings from a loving God. Barnabas is noted in verses 36 and 37 for his generosity in selling a piece of land and giving the money to the church.
What unites both the early Christians and us is that we are all heart. All that we have and all that we are belongs to God. We, like the early Christians, must have all things in common and we must be of one mind. To be of one mind is to is to have the mind of Christ in common-not our ideas about Him, or even our theology, but our heart and soul-our inner selves. We can only support and love each other if we know what’s going on inside each other.
Christians are dependent on each other. We are called to be Christ’s people. We are called to be in communion with Him and with each other. Together we are called to be the divine agent for Jesus’ continuing ministry today. A good example is Barnabas. He helped, encouraged, uplifted, and united to get the best out of people. He paved the way for the apostle Paul to be accepted by the other apostles. He was Paul’s missionary companion. He believed in the apostle Mark when Mark left during one of Paul’s missionary trips. We are called to stand with our Christian brothers and sisters. We are called to help each other during life’s trials and joys. Encouragement, such as that which Barnabas gave, is love in action. Christ tells us how to love people and encourage them.
Churches that are infectiously alive have strategies for members being together in small, informal gatherings where the Scriptures can be studied, needs and gratitudes shared, and prayer for one another offered. All of us need a handful of people who are loyal to us and to whom we are loyal because of Christ’s loyalty to us. He will never leave us or forsake us, and we must never leave or forsake our Christian brothers and sisters.
Giving is part of loving. It is a lifestyle that is at the heart of Christianity. It redirects us away from ourselves to the needs of others and the glory of God. What we have belongs to God, and He calls on us to share what He has given us with the less fortunate. When we allow God to fill our heats with His boundless love, it shows on the outside. This outer beauty is a gift from God. It is timeless. It literally pours out of us and alters our appearance in a most appealing way.
Giving can be inconvenient. There is never a “right” time when people need help. There are other priorities in our lives. There are other claims on our time. To be a source of help and hope, we must be willing to do what is necessary when it is necessary, regardless of the financial and personal costs.
Giving is contrary to today’s culture, which emphasizes individuality, autonomy, and personal conversion. Many people start out being faithful to God and serving Him. He blesses their success, but before long they remove themselves from the presence of God’s people. They become more concerned with making money instead of doing God’s work.
The key to what happened to the early believers, and the key to what happens to believers today, is unity. The early believers were united in their spirit of generosity, and modern believers are encouraged to be united in generosity as well. Believers give in order to advance the Gospel and meet the needs of other people. That generosity and unity is the result of God’s grace at work within a believer’s heart to cause him or her to become a giver. Unity is the key to evangelism, and it must have precedence in our prayers. Unity matters to God, and it should matter to us. Unity is a priority in heaven, so it should be a priority on earth.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 1493-1494)
- Ogilvie, L.J. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 28: Acts (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 108-114)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
- Vikki Burke, “The Spirit of Generosity.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- T.M. Moore, “Redirect (Engaging Culture, Part 3).” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Gwen Smith, “Church Matters.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- “Transformed by Jesus.” Retrieved from BibleGateway@e.BibleGateway.com
- Dr. Paul Chappell, “The Cost of Comforting.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- “Acts 4:32-35.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. Jack Graham, “How to Survive Success.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Vikki Burke, “The Spirit of Generosity.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org