In the book of Acts we see the early church acting in a way that made them seem like the kind of family we discussed in my last post. We read, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Act 2:44-45).
I’m not gonna ask anyone to go sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. Jesus already gave that instruction to a rich young man (Matt 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-27). So the question is, why did the early church act in such a way?
After Jesus ascended to heaven, the twelve along with a great many disciples, waited in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them. But at the very same time, there were thousands of people from all over. “Devote men from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). They had come for the Pentecost celebration. But then the Holy Spirit fell during the celebration, causing the 150 gathered in that upper room to begin speaking in tongues. Each foreigner heard those speaking in their own native tongue.
This is where Peter gives his very first speech. And in doing so leads a great many of them to salvation through Jesus the Christ. Luke records, “those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
So now there are about three thousand displaced believers. They can’t go home now. Not because of persecution, at least not yet. But, because they just came to a knowledge of the saving work of Jesus and must stay to learn all they can. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
What is it that one is to do with those displaced in this case? Feed them and house them. But how? Through selling stuff that wasn’t necessary.
In James’ last post, he mentioned a very important set of verses.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have work? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17), and “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).
True religion, true faith, is really loving people more than ourselves. Not the feelings based type of love we get from the secular humanist within the alphabet community, but the kind of love that says, “Nothing is mine. It’s all God’s, what needs can I meet?”
It’s a hard lesson that I’m attempting to instill in my children currently. One that our heavenly father has graciously taught to me. Nothing is my own. I must be willing to share everything. To give up everything. Like willingly giving up my own bed multiple times, choosing rather to sleep on a couch or air mattress so someone else has a safe place to sleep. About a year ago the girls did this exact thing. Choosing to share a bed for a time so their Nana would have a place to stay while she got back onto her feet.
Jesus explained this exact sentiment to the twelve. He said, “Whatever you give up for the kingdom, you’ll get back in heaven” (Mark 10:28-31; Matt 19:27-30). Jesus also said, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
Sadly, this scripture is often used to get people to give to “preachers” or “ministries,” rather than who I believe the intended party was, the poor and needy. Those who were without. The displaced, widows, and orphans.
So give. Not just of the overflow or excess. But give of your time and self. Take in those less fortunate. Take in the widow and the orphan. If God would do it, we should as well in order to “be imitators of God” (Eph 5:10), and “doers of the word” (James 1:22).