There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. – Acts 4:34-35 (ESV)
There was a family who had an interesting rule when their children were little: Each family member’s needs came before another’s wants. It was easy to figure out which was which, so there seldom was an issue as to who would benefit from the family resources. There was no favoritism, and no hoarding. Without them realizing it, the children were being raised according to today’s Scripture verses.
This worked well in their family of five, but in one as large as the whole of humanity, it is a little more difficult to manage. There is a solution, though, and it centers on the fact that it is up to the Family of God to be the impetus in ensuring that others receive “…according as they have need.” As daunting as this task may seem, there is a way it can be simplified: The task becomes more manageable when our number one want is to help meet others needs!
There is no doubt that we live in a needy world. God calls us to be willing not only to share what we have, but to share ourselves as well. We need to open not only our purses, but also our hearts. We must not only strive to feed other’s bodies, but also their souls.
As you seek God’s direction in your life, seek His face with a humble heart and a willing spirit.
A couple of months ago, we were eating dinner with some family friends and we started debating Acts 4. Is it possible to live by this chapter in today’s society? In many of the communities we serve in around the world, Acts 4:34-35 is not ancient history, it’s a matter of every day life. You live with or near friends and family who are willing to share everything to keep a family from going to sleep hungry. To keep kids clothed and warm. To help a child through school.
Why have many of us lost this principle? My upbringing has taught me to be very self-reliant – to operate with such self-sufficiency that I won’t ask others for help – sometimes not even accept it when offered. This is contrary to scripture. If someone has a desire to help and I turn it down, I am not blessing them. I am not allowing them to be generous.
On the other side, there are times when I am not very generous with people. Am I willing to give up some wants to supply others’ needs? CS Lewis said, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” I pray I heed Lewis’ advice.