Summary: Our 4th sermon in our Action in Acts series, we look at how our giving and the heart behind it determines our capacity for being part of the Action of God
Action – A Generous heart
Acts is a book where one of the underlying questions is what is this new community, this new nation, on about?
What kind of community is God wanting to create?
Do you guys remember a few years ago, the world news was focused on modern day piracy? It was off the coast of Somalia, and it continues to this day, where as of last December, they held over 35 ships and 650 crew. For those of you a little shaky on the geography, Somalia is on the East side of Africa, just south of the Arabian Peninsula.
If you are like me, when you did see pictures or stories about this the first thought going through your mind was, why don’t they look like Johnny Depp, or Keith Richards?
But after you got over that, you might be wondering why this is going on now, why we could not stop it...isn’t there a missile, or a tank or something that can stop this, why can’t we do anything about these pirates?
Somalia, average lifespan 42 years, infant mortality 1/10, average income 1 American dollar a day, thousands starving. And billions of dollars floats by, and we wonder why they grab it...and so when they grab it, they become the new heroes, as one mother was interviewed after said: we are not worried about feeding our families now (referring to the pirates)...celebrated for what they have done as the world looks on trying to stop them
In the last passage we dealt with, in Acts 2:42-43, they talk about a community where they broke bread together, and a part of that was community, but the next verses showed that it was also about generosity, and giving, and who has the bread and who does not. We live in a world where the ones celebrated are those that take, that get their share, that push others out of the way to get what they want, what they need.
There is a huge part of life today, not just two thousand years ago, and not just in war torn countries in Africa. The question of how we see the world, how we see possessions, what is our calling as the community when it relates to money is a big deal, and I think too often we don’t talk about it because it gets kind of weird, but it is a hot button for a reason, because when we look at how we spend our money, we see what we value.
Have you ever noticed that generosity is something that is very much in relation to how people see the world?
There is an interesting repeating theme in Acts, first in Acts 2:42-47
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
And then again just two chapters later in Acts 4:32-5:11
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”