TO MYSELF AND TO GOD (Acts 4:32 to 5:11)
Today’s passage starts like this: Vs 32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind”, they sold their possessions and brought the money to the apostles, leaving it to them to administer the funds. They were so committed to God and to one another that they were willing to “have all things in common.”. One of those who sold a field and gave the proceeds to the church was a man named Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas. (Verse 36)
A question for us to think about this morning is “What made those early Christians sell their property and give to the poor through the church? It’s in verse 33 that Luke reveals the source of this amazing community’s unity and generosity. While only the apostles were endowed with “great power” to testify to Christ’s resurrection, the entire church receives “great grace”.
Grace enabled these early Christians to transcend the fascination with self and replace it with concern for the whole community as the highest priority. So along with great power and grace, stewardship is about willingness, and not about compulsion.
The early church exemplified one “heart and soul”—they were totally committed to giving to God, whom they loved beyond themselves. When we follow Jesus, there is a serious rearrangement of our relationship to money. Jesus calls us to a generous and self-emptying way of life. Luke 12:33-34 says, “Sell that which you have and give gifts to the needy…. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 18:22 says, “When Jesus heard these things of the rich ruler, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven, then come and follow me.'” Yes, invest yourself in the church; invest yourself in the people of God!
Fyona Campbell—is an English long-distance walker who walked around the world covering a distance of 20,000 miles over 11 years and raised £180,000 for charity. She wrote about her experience in a series of three books. Walking through jungles, deserts, and a 400-mile-wide minefield, she earned her label “the greatest walker of them all.” During her walk, she was robbed and beaten; stoned by suspicious villagers; arrested for spying and detained by officials; taken to hospital with typhoid and malaria; she was near breaking point yet she still managed to walk every step of the distance.
On one occasion, she was taking a break from her journey and she was in a cab in Johannesburg and got to talking to the driver about her journey. The driver said, “So why are you doing this, anyway?” She said: “Because I said I would.” The driver replied: “Who did you say it to?” She said: “Myself and to God” Nobody made her do it. She could have quit at any time, but she did not.
That’s what giving to the church is all about. It’s about challenging yourself to achieve something great in your lifetime by giving your heart and soul cheerfully and gratefully to God and Christ’s Church. Perhaps when someone asks us, why we give so much time and money to the church unconditionally, we will respond “Because I said I would.” “Who did you say it to?” Let us respond: myself–and to God. Let this season of advent be a season of giving back to God and His people! Amen!