Scripture: Acts 4:32-35
I always wonder what it would have been like in the first days of the Church, when it was fresh and new for everyone. Today we have all these mature Christians that tend to put the brakes on things. We get a glimps at the lifestyle of these people, they would sell all they have and give it to the poor. I can easily look over this, I can gloss over it as young fanaticism, but who are these people? They were committed Jews, they gave a tithe and various other offerings to the temple which average out to around thirty percent of their income. They already gave that much yet they felt led to give more.
We get pretty attached to our stuff. I am pretty attached, at least. I spend most of my day earning the money that goes into buy the stuff, but what is it really worth? I have recently read a book by Richard Foster about simplicity, in this book Foster stresses that this is a perspective issue, asking whose stuff is it really. The answer to these early Christians was that it was not their’s. If it is not the individual’s then it is God’s. If the stuff is God’s then why am I so attached to the stuff?
I am a hard working individual. I have worked most of my life either on my family’s farms or in various other companies. In my ministry I have worked at leastone other job outside the church so it breeds in me an idea that I have gained or earned all that I have. So when I read passages like this or Foster’s book, I struggle. This has lead me to ask a question of myself, why do I work? The answer is so I can meet people. I cannot count the times I have been able to share my faith with my coworkers or with customers. Not that I insert the four spiritual laws in every cnversation, but in the course of the discusion I am able to talk about areas I struggled with or the church meeting I worship in. I work so I can minister.
These people did not view the stuff they had as their property but as a means to extend the kingdom of God. What would happen if we were to come to the same conclusion. What if we were to live our lives on a budget and give the rest to extend the kingdom not as a demand of the church but because we love the kingdom. On the flip side, what if our worship communities would reguard their budgets and properties in the same ways? These people gave so that the excess could be used to minister to those without. It was never demanded, the followers of Jesus did not encourage a tithe or anything of them, but instead encouraged everyone to listen to the leading of the Spirit and be obedient.
As you pray today just consider your relationship with your career, your stuff, and God. In this you may want to consider which you give the most priority to and how they relate to each other.