Acts 4:34-35 “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

These early Christians were certainly unselfish. They shared what they had with each other. These words take that a step further. They took what they had and they gave.

Giving is a prickly topic around church for some people. They think churches talk about it too much. A man who attended my last congregation told me that when he and his wife were shopping for a church over 60 years ago, the message was always the same no matter where they went. “Be good and give money.” Then they heard the pastor at my church preach, and the message was about Jesus. They thought that maybe it was just an accident, so they came back to hear him preach again, and the message was still about Jesus. So he and his wife joined the church.

Still, sometimes we have to say something about giving, and the church in Jerusalem gives us a great example. You often hear Christian people talk about tithing. The Old Testament standard of 10 percent can serve as a good guideline for Christian giving. But it can also limit people in their giving unnecessarily. And if people are merely keeping a rule, it can make their giving stagnant and replace the joy and excitement of participating in God’s mission.

When these people in Jerusalem sold a field, or sold a house, and then they brought the entire proceeds of the sale and gave it to the apostles to distribute, you don’t get the idea that they were worried about “10 percent,” do you? They were blowing “10 percent” away!

In the gospel they had found a cause, a purpose, a mission. That gospel then filled their hearts with love for each other. They had a ministry to support and a message to get out. They had missionaries to send. They had less fortunate members of their family of faith who needed help. These “needs” were an opportunity to love, a way to serve, a chance to be part of God’s own work. What drove their giving wasn’t a rule. It was a generous response to God’s love.

Could you be a generous Christian giver like that, one whose gifts blow far past 10 percent of your income? If we believe Jesus gave it all for us, it will simply excite us to think that he would let us do his work and love his people with our gifts.

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