24 April 2015Acts 4:32-35
“There was not a needy person among them.” (v. 34)
Psalm: Psalm 144
This passage gives us a picture of how the early Church behaved towards each other.
Passages like this have been used to support Communism and there is evidence that some Jewish sects at the time lived by rules that required members to sell all their possessions. Here though, there is no compulsion for people to sell their property. The believers didn't live together but in their own homes.
What seems to happen is that, through being unified and committed to each other's welfare, those who could would sell property and give the proceeds to the Apostles who would then distribute it to those who were in need. They would give freely without expecting anything in return.
This concern for fellow believers and the generous giving was as a result of love. It was not done out of duty. It was not done in order to following a set of imposed rules about property ownership. The depth of love was as a result of their being unified with God and with each other.
In the middle of this passage is verse 33. This verse is not about property or possessions but about evangelism. It seems almost not to fit in with the flow of thought. What it does though, is make the point that in the midst of all of these organisational considerations, they did not lose sight of their primary call, which was to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
They were not purely inward looking but continued to be outward looking towards those who were not yet believers.
- As individuals and as a church how far are you outward looking? What proportion of your time is spent on looking after your own fellowship, and what proportion is spent on spreading the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ to others?
- The giving described in this passage was radical in its day. How radical is your giving today?
- When you give, do you give freely? Are you happy that no one knows how generous you have been, perhaps not even those who have benefitted?
Bible notes' author: The Revd Ros Watson