Wow, Just Wow! (Acts 4:32-37)
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
This passage is a description of the first-century church in its early days. What an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, example-setting group of giving believers! The attraction and appeal of such a brotherhood moved to spontaneous love is powerful. Why?
Because of their unity! These people were “of one heart and one soul” when it came to their belief in Jesus, but also in the attitude they had toward one another. They had “all things in common” and openly shared their possessions with one another as families do!
Because of their attentiveness! No one among the rest of the believers “lacked” because those who had surplus noticed it and did something to help. We must have eyes to see the needs around us before we will fill those needs. Are we looking for opportunities to help or hiding so we will not be asked?
Because of their sacrifice! It would be easy for some of these Christians to say, “I don’t have the cash on me right now” and neglect to help their needy brethren. However, they knew they had the cash. It was just wrapped up in their assets. So, they “sold” their “lands or houses” and donated the proceeds allowing the apostles to distribute. This type of sacrifice is a beautiful rarity. How many people would be willing to sell off some land, some furniture, a recreational vehicle, some tools, to help a person in need?
Because of the encouragement of generosity! “Barnabas” is a name meaning the “Son of Encouragement” and he lived up to his name (4:36). Several examples are found in the Scriptures of the various ways Barnabas but his name into practice. Luke mentions Barnabas at least twenty- five times in the book of Acts. Yet, the first example is in this text. He practiced generous stewardship by selling a plot of “land” and laying “it at the apostles’ feet” for distribution to brethren in need. When wealthy brethren give to help cover the saints’ needs it creates an unforgettable bond of love.
When a church replicates this atmosphere within its ranks the world will take notice and the impact will be undeniably powerful. Those who witness this culture of spontaneous, sacrificial giving, with mouth agape, can only say, “Wow, just wow!”