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Sep
09

Uncommon: 4

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The early church was uncommon. It possessed attributes unlike any other community or organization known in their time. Their unity and value system was uncommon and they shared an uncommon story. As a result, they enjoyed the uncommon grace of God. As the text continues, we find another marker of this emerging movement: they had an uncommon sense of generosity.

“There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means ‘Son of Encouragement’). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles” (Acts 4:34-37, NLT).

We are somewhat caught off guard to read the claim that the church was so generous that it had eliminated all economic need within their group. Because they valued one another over their material possessions, they gave generously, even if it meant parting with a house or a field. I think it’s important to note that they gave with no strings attached. They sold stuff and gave the proceeds to the apostles and allowed them to distribute the funds according to their own discretion. Amazing!

When you think about it, the people of God throughout history have been known for their generosity. Think about your community. What are the names of the hospitals? Here in the 515 we have four hospital systems, three of which are named after the religious affiliations that started them. Think about the colleges and universities in America. Many of those private schools were started by the people of God who held a conviction that education was a priority. Think about the orphanages or the agencies that work tirelessly to serve those in need. Again, the people of God were on the cutting edge of meeting human needs and solving real problems in society. Uncommon!

Generosity not only meets physical needs. It also meets a spiritual need: encouragement. Barnabas is strategically introduced to the reader in this context, and his personal generosity is associated with encouragement. In other words, your generosity serves to encourage others and validates the claims of our faith and the calling of our Lord.

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