Summary: Here we see another mark of a great church. A great church is a generous church.
A Tour Through Acts ~ part 7
A Great Church is a Generous Church
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (Acts 2:45)
The Sunday School Teacher asked her eight eager 10-year-olds if they would give $1,000,000 to their church.
"YES!" they all screamed!!
"Would you give $1,000?" Again they shouted "YES!"
"How about $100?" "Oh, YES we would!" they all agreed!!
"Would you give just a dollar to your church?" she asked.
The boys exclaimed "YES!" just as before except for Johnnie.
"Johnnie," the teacher said as she noticed the boy clutching his pocket, "why didn't you say 'YES' this time?"
"Well," he stammered, "I HAVE a dollar."
"Money talks," it has been said. Indeed it does. It usually says, "Goodbye." But when you think about it, money does talk in many ways. It says much about the people who have it and who seek to have it. Our attitude toward money and the way you use our money says a great deal about us.
It might surprise us to find out that the Bible has a great deal to say about money and possessions. In fact, there are over 1,000 references to money in the Bible, it is second only to the topic of love. Almost two-thirds of the parables of Jesus had to do with money. It should be obvious that our use of money says volumes about us.
It should be no surprise that the power of the Holy Spirit made a difference in how these early Christians dealt with material possessions. When they came to Christ, they were utterly transformed in heart, mind, and lifestyle. That is what we see here in the opening pages of the Book of Acts. We see people who had been possessed by God.
Here we see another mark of a great church. A great church is a generous church. They were so committed that they sold everything they had. They were so overpowered by a spirit of generosity and giving that even their possessions were no longer important to them. They were concerned that in their church no one would suffer need. But what they provided was not merely spare change. It wasn’t even a few thousand dollars sitting in the bank drawing interest. It was their houses, their land, all their material possessions. What an unselfish spirit existed among these early Christians! They were a generous church.
A truly great church will be a truly generous church. I don’t believe God can bless tight-fisted, materialistically oriented, selfish, grasping, worldly Christians. That, at best, is carnal Christianity, and at worst, is not Christianity at all. True Christianity is generous Christianity. True Christianity is giving Christianity. "For God so loved the world that He gave..." God, in His very nature, is a giver. And we, if we contain the nature of God within this mortal flesh, will also be givers. A great church is a selfless church.
Jesus told us that it is impossible to serve two masters — that we simply could not serve God and money at the same time. It is really a question of priorities. And He also told us that we should not be worried about even those basic needs that we all have — needs like food and clothing. The reason is clear. He has committed Himself to provide for our needs, and He wants us to trust in Him for those needs.
It is because we serve a God who provides for us that we can give with the confidence that He will take care of us. This provides the motivation for giving. Let’s look at several characteristics which should mark generous Christian giving.
It Should Be Thankful
The first reason we ought to give is because we love the Lord and we are thankful for all God has done for us. Remember, Jesus gave His very life for us. Considering what He gave, how small is the gift of the tithe, 1 in 10, we are asked to give? Small indeed. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve. Because of all He has done for us, we give out of a heart full of love for Him. We give because we want to — because we are thankful. So our giving, first of all, should be thankful giving.
It is so easy to take things for granted. We live in a wonderful, free country. We are well fed. We have a roof over our heads, and money in our pockets. It’s true, we might not be as well off as some, but compared to most of the world we are rich. We are not only blessed materially, we are blessed with friends, family, and a future.
But, in spite of all this, we are sometimes slow to acknowledge our blessings. Because we have grown so accustomed to them, we take them for granted. It’s easy to do. Occasionally we need to be reminded of just what we have been taking for granted, and what we have to be thankful for. It is at special times, like Thanksgiving, that we are able to focus our attention on the things which really count.