Heart, Mind and Possessions
Verse: Acts 4:32-37
They were “one in heart and mind” (Ac 4:32). The unity that Jesus had prayed for, the “great power” and “grace” with which the Spirit had infused them were being abundantly expressed in their immediate and practical concern for one another (see Ac 4:33). Pastor and author Gene Getz offers these thoughts on this passage:
As the church continued to grow and expand, the Christians’ unselfish attitudes toward material possessions continued to permeate the total community … When Luke recorded that people “shared everything they had,” he did not mean to imply that everyone sold everything and put the total proceeds in a common fund. Rather, he clarified this statement when he said, “there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them” (Ac 4:34). As the needs of people became obvious, people who could, and desired to do so, responded by liquidating their property in order to provide money to meet these people’s needs. This was a voluntary system, which must have greatly impacted the “God-fearing” but non-Christian Jews who were used to a rather rigid, legalistic approach to giving. The believers shared their material possessions out of hearts of love, both because of their commitment to Jesus Christ and because of human needs.
Getz points out that the “supracultural principle” here is that “Christians should be willing to make special sacrifices in order to meet the material needs within the body of Christ.”
Theologian John R. Schneider agrees with Getz and points out that this situation constituted “special conditions” and that paradigms for Christian generosity should come “from a more complex analysis of economic development in the context of Christian commitment to the proposition that all human beings—Christians or not—are creatures made in the image and likeness of God.” But, says Schneider, Acts does present another principle of Christian community.
Luke’s vivid picture [is] of the new community in constant celebration and delight. He stresses that the first gatherings were more like feasts than like some of our contemporary somber services. In breaking bread they mirrored the banquets of Deuteronomy as filtered through the eating and drinking the disciples had enjoyed with Jesus. In the koinonia of these very first Christians, it seems that they adumbrated in the present the messianic banquet that was yet to come. This feature of their gathering also supports thinking that the ideals Luke upholds for Christians are those of the exodus in Christian form. They are ideals in which the people embody God’s vision of human dominion and delight and the virtues of humility and compassion that follow from it.
Think About It
- How does the description of Christian community in Acts 4:32-37 seem unattainable today? What aspects of this Acts community reflect your experience in your church?
- How might the principles of giving be applied today?
- What would bring about a group of Christians living with one “heart and mind”?
Act on It
The description of the Christians in Acts is not a fairy tale or a myth. These were real people. Determine to pray for your own church or community to be unified, living together “one in heart and mind.”
This devotion is from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.