Summary: We live in a society that is obsessed with self-fulfillment and self-centeredness. •And Christians often share that obsession, buying into this “me first” attitude. •Yet when we examine the book of Acts, we see in the Church a community characterized b
“Sharing All Things”
The Church’s Example in Giving
One of the things we learn from children is their natural, inborn tendency toward selfishness.
•From a baby’s perspective, “What’s mine is mine, What’s yours is mine, and whatever I want is mine.”
•And this natural selfishness continues with children.
•Around our house a toy will go unplayed with for weeks, for months, even years. It will be so neglected it is the most lonely toy in the world. But as soon as that toy is picked up by one child, for the child who owns it suddenly becomes the most coveted object in the world. A child will kill for that toy.
•I have come into their room to a massive fight; fireworks will be going off; I will peel them off each other. And they will be fighting over a rock. “This is a rock!” “There are hundreds of rocks outside. I will bring you a bag full of rocks.” And then the classic cry, “But it’s my rock.”
•We learned to exploit this selfishness when the kids were young to get them to eat their dinner. But we would say, “Don’t eat those carrots. Those are my carrots. Gimme those carrots.” It doesn’t work any more because they are too smart.
And we as adults do the same thing in more subtle ways.
•We protect our stuff. Nothing irritates me more than to find my tools scattered around the house, or to find my prize screw driver on the lawn with the sprinklers on.
•Something that is borrowed but not returned.
Even our acts of charity can in fact be motivated by self-interest.
I read a story of a lady answered the knock on her door to find a man with a sad expression.
•“I’m sorry to disturb you,” he said, “but I’m collecting money for an unfortunate family in the neighborhood. The husband is out of work, the kids are hungry, the utilities will soon be cut off, and worse, they’re going to be kicked out of their apartment if they don’t pay the rent by this afternoon.”
•"I’m so sorry, said the woman with great concern “I’ll be happy to help, But who are you?"
•"I’m the landlord," he replied. (Jon H. Allen )
How much of our giving depends on our own personal happiness and comfort?
I’m more than willing to give, just so long as it doesn’t affect my financial well being.
I’m happy to serve, just so long as it doesn’t inconvenience my schedule.
I’m available to help, just so long as it doesn’t infringe on my recreational activities.
We live in a society that is obsessed with self-fulfillment and self-centeredness.
•And Christians often share that obsession, buying into this “me first” attitude.
•Yet when we examine the book of Acts, we see in the Church a community characterized by a giving and a self-sacrificial spirit.
If you have your Bibles turn with me to Acts 4.
We are continuing our study of Acts this morning.
We have been seeing how the Church has been growing in extraordinary way. It is a thriving community, a vibrant community.
We have seen various reasons for this growth.
•Several weeks ago we saw that they had their priorities right. They focused on four key essentials (1) The apostles teaching; (2) Fellowship; (3) Breaking of Bread; and (4) Prayer. We called those four our recipe for revival.
•Last week we saw another characteristic of the Church, their extraordinary courage and boldness. Peter stood in front of the Sanhedrin and boldly proclaimed that Jesus, whom they crucified, was the Messiah.
This week we are going to see another key characteristic of the Church.
•The Church was an incredibly giving body; a generous community that shared everything that God had given them.
In Acts 4, Peter and John have just been threatened and released. They return to the Church and the Church rejoices and prays, thanking God for the privilege of suffering for Jesus.
•From external persecution Luke then turns to a picture of the inward life of the Church.
•Let’s read the passage. Acts 4:32-37
1. The Foundation for a Generous Heart: Unity in heart and mind, v. 32
I was talking about my kids earlier and the fights and conflicts that break out. Do you know when they fight the least? When they are pursuing a common goal.
•I remember we went to the beach last year, they were fighting and quarreling on the way out. We got there and began to build a sand castle. And it was a glorious, they were having a ball. Digging towers and motes, decorating with shells and seaweed. Working together on this masterpiece; battling the waves.
•I was thinking “What great kids we have!”
•We got back in the car for the drive home, and suddenly they’re at it again, fighting and quarreling.