Monday, September 24, 2012

BOLD Generosity

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. “ Acts 2:44 & 45

One of the defining characteristics of the early church was their bold generosity. We read in Acts how believers “held everything in common” and “sold property" in order to meet the needs of others. While some have tried to read political or economic theory into these verses, I believe the early church was motivated by something far more practical ... FAMILY.

Healthy families don’t argue over who owns the couch or the dining room table. There is no “mine and yours"; there is simply “ours.” Early Christians viewed one another as members of the same family. Imagine a father coming home to his family and telling his five-year-old daughter she can’t eat because the food in the pantry belongs to him, or a mother denying her infant a place to sleep because he hasn’t paid the rent. Absurd!

Families have a basic understanding that what they have is shared. When my children were small, the word “share” was used a lot. There were times Sheri and I would hear the dreaded word “MINE!” screamed from some far corner of the house and we would know a basic principle of living together as a family had been violated. Someone was unwilling to share.

Unfortunately, not many churches identify themselves as families today. As a result we are losing a defining characteristic of the early church. The Bold generosity of the first church was attractive to those who were watching. We read in Acts 2:47 that the citizens of Jerusalem looked on these early Christians with great favor and that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Generosity attracts people. Look how we are drawn to stories of lavish generosity in the news and through popular entertainment. These stories make us gasp and inspire us. We WANT people to be generous ... especially toward us.

Having spent my entire career working for non-profit organizations, I have witnessed acts of generosity that have taken my breath away. As the pastor of Southside Baptist Church, I have had church members quietly approach me with money they want to share with someone they know in our fellowship who is in need. There have been sacrifices made by seniors on fixed incomes so a teenager could go on a mission trip, single moms who faithfully tithe so the ministry of the church can continue to impact our city, generous business owners who have shared meager profits in a difficult economy. Every time I see it, I think of that first church and thank God I’m part of a congregation that still understands that before the church is anything else, we are a family. What we have is ours to share.

Bold generosity is a sign of bold faith. I believe the world is still attracted to that kind of generosity and faith. May Southside always seek to be a family who understands God’s Bold generosity toward us through His Son Jesus. May we boldly share the message of His love and boldly demonstrate His generosity to a world in need.