And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:44, 45)
The day after Pentecost the new church was confronted by a crisis. With 3000 new converts that had been added to the 120 from the upper room, the problem of where to hold services arose. But for sure, not all of them could go back to their homes. So they stayed together to have fellowship, pray, and to grow in the teaching of the apostles. As a result of all these new converts, there was an enormous need of housing and food. Probably furniture had to be taken out of the available houses. The people started to sell their belongings in order to face those needs.
During the first days of the church, the new converts knew very well that they had to sell all the possessions which they had here on earth. By selling their belongings for the good of the others, the needs of everyone was taken care of. Those that were working probably gave more than only their tithes, so everybody had something to eat. The money gained from the possessions of the people was given to the apostles, who then distributed it among those in greatest need (take a look at those who had money). In the following years when the needs of everybody had been taken care of, the church of Jerusalem probably went back to a normal life. But this system where everybody shared everything had its problems; like that which we can read about in Acts 5:1 and in Acts 6:1. But that was only temporarily. It was a system of mutual possession.
God does not demand this. What He expects of us is the willingness to do so
– if necessary.
Would you sell everything you had in order to help those that are in need?
The people sold their belongings for two reasons:
1. Their brothers and sisters had needs and it was a blessing to share with them.
2. They were convinced that the return of Jesus Christ was near; so consequently there was no need for material things.
Jim Elliot, a missionary who gave his life for his people, said one time: “It is not foolish for someone to give that which he cannot keep, in order to get that which he cannot lose!“
When we give, we invest into the heavenly bank. Norma S. Scholl said: “ All that we have is only borrowed. We will not be taking anything when we leave. When we are not using something, we could give it to someone else who could use it now.”
Paul spoke to the church of Macedonia that had the desire to give despite their poverty; they gave not only according to their resources but more than their resources. Paul said that we must give according to that which we have, not according to that which we do not have (2 Corinthian 8:12).
“But by an equality, that now at this time, your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8: 14-15) Paul said in these verses that our abundance should take care of the needs of the saints so that there would be equality.
Other proverbs say:
The left hand washes the right hand and the right hand washes the left hand. When the two hands wash each other they both will be clean.
The fingers of the hand are not equally long. (People do not have the same capacities, abilities)
One finger alone is not able to lift anything (all the fingers have to work together). “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)
One man preached in a church and said: “Like the lame man, this church needs to get up and walk!” The church members all shouted: “ That’s right, lets go!” “ This church, “ the preacher went on, “ must run like Elijah on Mount Carmel,” “Let’s run, Pastor,” answered the assembly. “This church must have wings, wings to fly with,“ and they said: “Let’s fly!“ But when the preacher said: “ If it needs to fly, it needs money”, the people shouted: “Let’s walk!”
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. (Proverbs 21: 13)
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. (Proverbs 19:17)
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse. (Proverbs 28:27)
But whoso hath this worlds’ good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (1 John 3:17 )
There are many needs in this world and you yourself have also lived in poverty. It is easy to say: ”I cannot help everybody!“ That is true, but you can help somebody.
Let us remember: Helping hands!
I ask myself about the reward the church of Macedonia received, because their offerings were not egoistic, but rather they were a sacrifice. Their offering went up to the Lord like “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18 ) What else happened? Because of their offerings prosperity was promised to them.
But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
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