and they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. [acts 2:45]
money is always a difficult topic, because our wallets and bank accounts do a much better at revealing our hearts most anything else–in our culture, we see ourselves as worshippers of God, but pragmatically, we often live as materialists.
so coming to these passages in acts are always jarring, challenging, convicting, spurring–and they force us to ask the questions “why did they do this?” and “is this a model for how we should live?” we try to dismiss that there is any imperative for us in the way that these early christians lived in a different time and a different context, and we let ourselves off the hook because of the ‘wisdom’ that we exercise with ‘our’ possessions. we pound our fists on the table and emphasize that it is legalism that would force us to look into our spending habits and make any change.
Jesus didn’t see it this way–he has much to say on the topic of money–and these early christians were doing exactly what he commanded:
“fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. sell your possessions, and give to the needy. provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [luke 12:32-34]
over and over, Jesus emphasizes what he knows will be some of our biggest sin–the love and worship of stuff, the idolatry of the next thing that we can buy–our gods don’t look like the wooden idols on the shelf anymore, they come in design and color myriad, they are leather and plastic, they can be physical or virtual, they are image, or sport or idea, and they lead us away from Christ.
so what is the cure? what would lead us to the abandonment of baal or the chemosh or dagon of our day? what would prevent us from sacrificing our children to the molech of materialism?
awe. [acts 2:43a]. the presence of our Holy God will free us from materialism and resulting in our flourishing and freedom from enslavement to stuff and salaries and 401k balances and a giving us a heart that is giving towards God and others. awe comes from seeing giving heart of Christ towards us, and then wanting to imitate him in his generosity.
God is generous, and he poured out what was infinitely costly to himself to redeem us–he gave us all things.
so let us cry out to him in our need– let us ask God to show us his glory so that the glory that we see in anything else fades!
he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? [romans 8:32]
help our unbelief in the truth that only you satisfy! be our portion, help us to believe that at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore!