They were of an uncommon mindset for their day. Imperfect people brought together in unprecedented generosity. A multitude of families and friends from all over Jerusalem, each one having sold their possessions, came and laid their gift at the apostles’ feet to distribute.
The harmony of the Holy Spirit had brought them into one accord; the overflow of kindness and convictions had compelled them to dig deep into their resources. Their acts of worship were carried out in the tangible form of giving. Their decision to follow Christ came with a cost that was more than just financial. Nevertheless, their confidence was built on the promise of heavenly reward.
I sat at my desk earlier this week studying this passage in Acts 4. I marveled at the account. The extraordinary sacrificial generosity of brothers and sisters in the Lord, shown in what they gave to one another. I quietly pondered the times that I witnessed the essence of these verses lived out in my own life. My silence was interrupted by the sound of children laughing outside my window. The melody of their voices took me back to the first Christmas celebration with new believers in our village. In the spirit of the season, the children had each received a toy graciously sent by our church members back home. Their squeals of uncharacteristic joy and delight from that evening still bring a smile to my face.
I remembered other times of abundant giving that touched my heart. There was a fishing boat replaced by a love offering after the waves capsized the man’s primary source of income. Vacations that were surrendered so that building projects would be completed. Money was transferred into our bank account for airline tickets. Boxes mailed across the ocean, filled to the bursting point with treasures for our kids. So many gave to us open-heartedly and without hesitation. They had impacted our lives immeasurably and consequently the eternal lives of so many island believers. Each gift was given in love without obligation.
My family and I could have never accomplished meeting the needs of our ministry on our own. In the same way, I believe the needs of the early church couldn’t have been met without the generosity of those around them. Inspired by the first example we see in Christ Himself, the early church’s selflessness strikes a chord in many of us that we cannot easily mimic. I wonder if this type of sacrifice can ever be seen by those around us today. Their convictions ran deep and brought them to the place where all things given and received became part of the larger body of Christ. They were committed and purposeful in their giving. The result of their faithfulness was evident and left no room for doubt about the effectiveness. The penned ink of Acts 4:34 states, “Nor was there anyone among them who lacked.”
I am drawn to examine those words more carefully, convicted to look deeper at my own life. Have I led a generous life so that others have not lacked? Have I strived to be of one heart and mind with others around me in order to impact lives? What do I do when God does not seem to be meeting my needs? I am taken back to what the story states. The early saints were living out the new law given to them by Christ only months earlier. “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” Their actions mirrored this exhortation, giving them a powerful witness to those around them. Their beliefs were centered on the truth that opened them up to give and serve freely. The blessings were easy to recognize by outsiders, evident in the footprints of their lives. I am inspired by their example and challenged to let my own generosity be fueled by The God whose resources will never run dry.
How have you been impacted by another’s giving? How can you bless others in your giving?