4.

We are Generous

In this lesson, we see how the early church was generous, how they learned generosity from God, and what we must do to be generous.
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The best people I know are Christians.

45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
- Acts 2:45-46

These Christians Were Generous

We see the generosity of these Christians in Acts 2:45-46. Here are a few things to notice in the this verse.

A. They were selling their possessions and belongings.

When you read that, you think of items. Other versions say their property and possessions. These Christians weren't merely selling little items, but some were even selling land/real estate. We see this in a very similar passage a few chapters later.

32Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
- Acts 4:32-35

This wasn't simply a garage sale in Jerusalem of items nobody wanted to keep, they were selling valuable things for those in need.

B. Distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

They were doing this for those who were in need.

Who would be in need?

There is an influx of 3000 believers in Jerusalem from this pilgrimage on the Day of Pentecost. Many of these individuals wouldn't have jobs, so if they were to survive, they would need the family off Christ to help them. The Jews had a tremendous custom of hospitality during any major feast like Pentecost; all visitors were received into private homes, and no one could charge for giving a bed or a room to a visitor or for supplying their basic needs. The Christians took this tremendous feast-time hospitality and made it an everyday thing. As needs arose, the christians would sell their own property and possessions to meet the needs. This cycle continued for a period of time.

You might wonder, "is this what they were doing for anybody in need or for christians in need?" From the context and unique situation, it appears they were helping those who had needs in Christ. I could be wrong, but this is what it appears to be.

"Day by day breaking bread in their homes." They housed each other, fed each other, they were providing for their brothers and sisters in this moment of need. These Christians took it upon themselves to help their brothers and sisters.

Generous: a readiness to give more of something than is necessary or expected.

Would you say they are giving more than what's necessary or expected? They are sacrificing for the others. They are giving up things of value and getting nothing material in return. We would say they are an incredibly giving group of people.

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- Acts 2:47

Does it surprise you that people were attracted to a God whose people lived like this?

How did they become this generous?

They Learned Generosity From God. Our God is generous. From the first page to the last page of the Bible, you find a God who gives,

Creation

God not only created a magnificently beautiful world for our dwelling place, but he created us with just the right collection of senses to take it in and enjoy it. On top of that, one of the most precious things about the gift of creation is that it was purposefully designed to reveal the most important thing ever—the Creator's existence and character.

The Covenant

2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
- Genesis 12:2–3

Abraham did nothing to deserve this but God showed his generosity through His promise and covenant with Abraham. God's generosity wasn't because of who Abraham is, but because of who God is.

Freedom From Slavery

Generosity is what caused God to raise up Moses and harness the forces of creation, staying faithful to the promises that he made to Abraham and his descendants. The Lord unleashed his almighty power in a display like the world had never seen before and rescued his children from captivity, defeating the feared army of Pharaoh on the way. Because God makes generous promises, he is generous in the use of his power to fulfill those promises.

The Law

God led the Israelites out of slavery, but they were destitute, traumatized, powerless, ungoverned, and living in a fractured culture. By God's generosity, they received life but did not know how to live. So God blessed them with the most practical of gifts—the gift of his law. Yes, the Lord had the right to command their obedience, but the law is a testament to the extent of the generosity of his love. The generosity of your Father is always sympathetic and understanding.

The Promised Land

The spies came back from the Promised Land and said, "It is a good land that the Lord our God is giving us" (Deuteronomy 1:25). Did Israel celebrate God delivering on his promise? No! In fear and anger, God's people turned against their generous Lord. Despite this, there would be a palace and a temple in that land, and generations would be born into lives of prosperity. This lets us know that God is not just generous in fulfilling his promises, no matter what, but he is also lavishly generous in his patience.

The Son

Despite Israel rejection of God, He decided to send Himself. Becoming man, being despised, enduring pain, and experiencing death, God's greatest gift of Generosity was the gift of Jesus.

This picture of the church we have been looking at in Acts 2 shows a people who is kind by giving to one another and it is no coincidence this comes after learning of the kindness of God to die on the cross for our sins.

God gave it all for our sin...how could we not be willing to give in return?

The early church was generous because God had been generous with them.

We are Generous.

We are meant to be a people who give and sacrifice for the needs of others. A people who don't see what we have in our life as our own, but as blessing from God that we can use to bless others. A people who go above and beyond what is expected or required, because God has gone far beyond what is expected or required.

How do we do this?

We must believe we are rich in Christ.

If you believe you're rich in Christ, everything else doesn't mean as much.

We must be willing to let go.

When you give, you lose something for a moment. Time, money, But you gain so much more than what you lose. It is more blessed to give than receive.

We must look for needs

There are needs everywhere if we look for them. There are needs right in this room, amongst our family. People who could use our time, service, our money, our help.

We must make generosity a habit.

To be a giver, it has to become habit. Why do we give our kids money to put in the plate? To develop the habit! When we make it a habit to volunteer at a charity, to provide a meal every other week, to give to a ministry...we grow in our generosity.

Challenge

Look for a need this week and be prepared to fill it. Make that a weekly habit.

Series
4 of 5