“All the believers were one in heart and mind…And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:32-34
We’re commanded to care for the poor in the world, but Jesus taught that poverty would be a never-ending issue on this earth (Matthew 26:11). However, when it comes to believers, this passage shows that it is possible to have no one in need in our churches. God is able to care for the needs of everyone in the body of Christ, and He chooses to bless and use believers to make that happen. So if there are unmet needs in the body of believers, there are two possible reasons identified here. Either there are not enough believers living and thinking with one heart and mind, or we are lacking in humility and God’s grace.
It wasn’t that these believers didn’t own things, Acts 4:32-37 says they did. They didn’t turn all their belongings over at once, but “from time to time” as a need arose. It wasn’t about having communal property, but a communal heart. These believers were “one in heart and mind.” They considered other believers as part of themselves so they wouldn’t have hesitated to provide when a need arose. If we truly saw other believers this way, we would take care of them. We would love them as ourselves as Jesus commanded in Mark 12:31, because we see them as ourselves. What evidence is there of this kind of love in our lives or in our churches? How many needs are going unmet because our heart is divided?
This generosity towards believers was also a result of humble hearts. God gives grace, His unmerited favor, to the humble (James 4:6). This passage tells us that His grace was “powerfully at work” in all of them. So there must have been much humility present in these believers. They didn’t “claim” things were their own because, they knew it all belonged to God. They would not have been prideful about what they had nor stingy about what they gave. By the grace of God we are what we are (1 Corinthians 15:10), and we have what we have. “For who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 12:35-36). As the apostle Paul taught, we are to “excel in the grace of giving”(2 Corinthians 8:7). Not to create a welfare program, but so believers in times of plenty can provide for the needs of those in times of little. (2 Corinthians 8:14). So what needs are going unmet because we view what we have as things we’ve earned for our own use rather than as gifts from God entrusted to us for His use?
It is interesting that right in the middle of this passage on generosity and taking care of the needs of the believers that God chose to have Luke write, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” It’s as though God is reminding us of Jesus’ teaching in John 17:23, that there is a direct correlation between the power of our testimony for Jesus and being the united body of Christ that is one in heart, mind and body. How powerful would our testimony for Jesus be in our communities if our churches were so united that there were no needy among us?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You are the Great Provider. Thank you that you are able to supply our needs, that you choose to use us to share your grace and blessings with others. Forgive us for having a divided heart and not seeing other believers as ourselves. Forgive us when we are lacking in your grace and humility. Help us to love others as ourselves, to be united in heart, mind and body. Help us to really know that all we have truly belongs to you, that we are stewards of your gifts and grace. May we excel in generosity so that there are no needy among us and our testimony for Jesus is powerful. In the great name of Jesus Christ, the One and Only, full of grace. Amen!
If only the church looked more like the early church of Acts 4:32-34.
Lord, help me to be more loving to other believers and more attentive to their needs.