Summary: In this message we look at the powerful testimony we have to the lost when we learn to share our possessions with one another.
The Power of a Changed Life
“The Power of Sharing”
A 3 year old boy had been misbehaving all day so his parents sent him to bed early as punishment. He marched off without a word but 5 minutes later he appeared in the LR, carrying his favorite toy, his piggy bank and some clothes. He came in and said that’s it I’m running away from home. He Father said well what do you plan to do when you get hungry? He says, well I’ll just come to eat. He says well what about when you run out of money? He says well I’ll come home and you can give me some more. His Father looked at his bundle of clothes and gave it one last try. He says well what will you do when your clothes get dirty? He says well I’ll bring them home for mommy to wash. The Father turned to his wife and said honey, this kid isn’t running away from home, he’s going to college.
For all of us as our children grow older one of the things we realize is that we parent our children in different ways according to their age. There are certain things we find it necessary to emphasize at certain point in their lives. And then there are those things that we must emphasize all of their lives. Whether they are young adults or whether they are preschoolers. One of those things is responsibility. From a very young age they have to learn to be responsible for the things that belong to them....to take care of them; then as they grow older and begin driving they have to be responsible on the road. We all want our kids to learn patience-honesty-fairness, to learn to treat people in the way they want to be treated.
A group of preschool teachers were asked whether they could identify those in their class who would one day become leaders. They said well of course we can. The interviewer said well tell me what you look for. What qualities? They said well the kids are self-confident...they feel good about themselves. They take initiative..they are the ones who are always first to start a project..others want o watch and follow their lead. Anything else? They said yes they are the ones who share their toys.
Here in the book of acts this morning we find a group of people in the early church who were leaders because they really knew how to share. From the very beginning we see that the church was involved in helping people. In the 2nd chapter of the book of Acts we saw the church sharing everything...they sold their possessions and goods and gave to anyone who had a need. In the scripture today we see them doing a similar thing. We will see it again in chapter 6.
We notice first of all that there is great power in a church that is united. This was God’s plan for the early church and it is God’s plan for the church of today.
Now before you and I can truly learn to give we have to learn to let go of our attachment to our possessions. John Talbot is a minster of a group called Hermitage...it is a community of Monks, nuns and others who have come together to live a very simple life of charity. When they arrive everyone in the group must get rid of all of their possessions except what is absolutely necessary. They take what is referred to as a vow of poverty. The interesting thing Talbot says is that taking a vow of poverty is in no way a cure fo materialism. It is not a cure for selfishness. He said many people come to the community and go from being selfish with thousands of dollars to now being selfish with their coffee mug. A person can be wealthy and be selfish...we can be poor and we can be selfish...the problem is not with what we have, the problem is with our attachment to what we have.
In order to become better at giving you and i have to learn to let go of our attachment to things. Some of the happiest people I know are those wh know this...they have things but they are not attached to them. Listen it is not a coincidence that the 1st 5 letters of the word misery are miser! Misers hold on to things and they end up being miserable. You and i have to learn to let go.
2. There is great power in a church that is unselfish. Vv. 34-35.
The NT church must invest in people rather than possessions. The reason the early church made such a difference in the community was because they believed that it is far better to spend your time changing lives, than to spend your time acquiring possessions. You must ask yourself this question, what is more important to me, things or people? The early church made the choice to invest in people rather than things. As a result they sold some of their possessions/things and gave the money to the apostles.