Jordan will speak to us this Sunday from Acts 4:32 to 5:11. I entitle this section, “Holy Generosity.” The true nature of our spirituality could possibly be revealed by our bank statement. These new believers in this new church, filled with the Holy Spirit, held a unique perspective: “No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Luke explained what was going on: “God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them” (4:32-34). Isn’t it amazing that sometimes God’s grace is demonstrated by our generosity! As our little church is growing in numbers, I believe we are also growing in grace. God is making us aware of the needs of internationals and inspiring us to meet those needs.
Joseph, aka Barnabas, was a prime example of this generosity. Ananias and Sapphira represented an opposite perspective. What was the difference? Joseph had a unique quality about him that the apostles recognized and embraced by calling him Barnabas. Luke includes a parenthesis in 4:36, (“which means ‘son of encouragement’”). He was recognized by the church and given a name that matched his character. Writing this, my mind turns to several in the ICF who could be aka Barnabas! This shows us that the filling of the Spirit will produce love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22), and add to that, generosity!
Barnabas gave because he was led by God to encourage, to bless, to inspire. Ananias gave because he selfishly wanted the glory of the apostles’ blessing. His spirit was of a nature that would have proven to be damaging to this new body of believers that were being persecuted by officialdom. God dealt severely with this distraction before it could become a source of discouragement to the church. 5:11 tells us that there was great fear because of these events. What was the result? Luke reports that “the apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (5:12, 14). God’s ways need never to be questioned!